Album review

Protagonist : Hope And Rage
Blackout! Records

Protagonist : Hope and RageProgressive, melodic and constantly motivating, Protagonist's debut release has hit the nail on the head and bludgeoned it to death. Hope And Rage is a CD infused by contemporary socio-politics, sturdy riffs and the ideal balance between passionate and brutal hardcore.

Kick-off number Society oozes anthemic qualities, played with the precision of a laser guided missile, with the same ferocity and devastation. It's also the first example of a unintentional balance between seasoned professionalism and wide-eyed amateurism which provides Hope And Rage which a great deal of its charm. It may well be their debut but the songs and attitudes are undoubtedly established. Non-stop touring has evidently aided this evolution. While the lyrics are clearly left wing, the music itself provides a flexible and tuneful setting that ensures it's not just a load of shouting and anger burnt onto a CD.
    Protagonist avoid the standard 'fuck the establishment, fascist corporate scum' approach and instead aim for a more social reading. It just goes to show that authoritative statements don't have to be utterly confrontational to be effective in their mission. The lyrics here are of a more personal perspective than a 'take on the world' outlook.
    Stand out tracks include . . . well, all of them. Melodic hardcore gems such as The Final Hour and Grey Skies complement the piano ending of The Unity Clause and the heartfelt opening of Maginot Lines - a track which quickly detonates into a stomping blast of noise and angst-drenched lyrics.
    I can't put my finger on why Hope And Rage is so alluring - it's not as if shouting chants and searing riffs have never been combined at the burning heart of another band. But there is something about this release that hits the spot - it's definitely a hardcore hunger-buster.

I will be keeping my eye on Protagonist in the next year or so to see how things develop and work out for them. After hearing the blistering Hope And Rage, I'm expecting big things from this tight Floridian five-piece.

:: Graham Drummond

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