Release Date: August 28, 2012
Reviewed by Megan Missler
The Protest is an independent metal/hard rock band from the Indianapolis, IN area made up of five talented individuals. Jarob Bramlett builds the fast-paced hard-hitting foundation on drums, while Chase Reagan keeps that beat thumping on bass. T.J. Colwell cranks out the chords on rhythm guitar while Adam “Sarge” Sadler jams on lead guitar. Josh Bramlett puts words to the music as lead vocalist while also playing acoustic guitar. The rest of the band also sings background vocals, or screams them when necessary. The Protest is anything but timid with their debut album Game Changer. They entered the studio with Travis Wyrick, who has also worked with Disciple, Pillar, The Letter Black, and P.O.D.
Game Changer opens with the dark, ethereal mood of “Reinvention.” Heavy, grungy guitars under a lilting lead line bring in hushed confessional vocals. This song has a slight gothic feel, and this is just the first 30 seconds. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of metal sweetness as the verse screams into the chorus. “Resist” is much harder with screaming from the start and fast, dirty guitars. It’s about the battle between the control we feel we have and wanting God to take control. There is some electronic stuff going on and I’m not sure I care for it, mostly because Jarob shows his skills in this song and the electronic tracks cover up the percussion.
Drum line driven “Don’t Waste Time” exemplifies The Protest’s sound. Josh’s tone moves from passionate, gravely yell to moments of smooth clarity. He delivers the well written lyrics full of depth accompanied by full energy rock cleverly sprinkled with soaring guitar solos and heavy hitting rhythm.
The album seems to take a turning point with “Throw the Roses,” moving from confession and struggle with self, to repentance. ‘The skies are turning black on me/As I watch the colors fade away/Throw the roses on my grave/My life is Yours, so take it away!’ The lyrics make this song one of my favorites. It captures death to self in poignant imagery but with a positive, aggressive tone. This aggressiveness is ramped up with “Chambers.” It’s a declaration that no matter what evil is thrown at us, we will continue to fight. God will protect our souls and will accomplish His purpose. This passionate proclamation is poured out in every crack of the drum, cymbal crash, suspended note, strummed and bent string, drawn breath, and full-on scream. There is also a fabulous guitar dual between Noah Henson (Pillar) and Sadler. The militant theme is resolved to one of victory over a struggle in “Pull Me Away.” This is the best lead vocal on this album.
“Spotlight” brings the album to the more specific topics. This one is about losing focus in ministry or performance. Brad Noah of Disciple showcases some serious shredding in this song. “Up From The Fall” is a soft rock ballad about staying strong through dark, difficult struggles. This song reminds us that ‘…there is a love that is aching to know you/With his arms open wide/…God is there/And he desperately wants/Your pain to be gone.’ It is a welcome break from the heavy rock, though they do rock out the end. They can’t help it.
“We Will Rise” is a high energy rock anthem full of group vocals. At the climax of the song, Josh forgets about singing and all out screams the lyrics! At first I thought this would have been a better choice to close the album. After multiple listens, I agree that the remake of “In the Air Tonight” was the right choice. This song is pure fun and ends the album on a good note. What I like about this song is what it is not. It is not The Protest trying to sound like the original. They stay true to the original while letting their unique identities as individual musicians shine through to create something new and fun. They totally rock it! That is what makes this group work, after all.
There is obvious talent in this group of young men. The only criticism I would give this album is a slight lack of diversity. A few of the songs sound very similar. Overall it is a great album and very much worth your time and money. This band also puts on a great live show, and their love for God shines through on and off the stage. So don’t miss this album or a chance to see a show.
Recommended Tracks: Don’t Waste Time, Throw The Roses, Chambers, Up From the Fall, We Will Rise