Protomartyr - The Agent Intellect - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Protomartyr - The Agent Intellect

by Steve Reynolds Rating:8 Release Date:2015-10-09

So Protomartyr - what's to know about this band? Formed in 2008 out of Detroit, this is their third album in three years. 

To define their sound you'd say it draws on a mix of musical pastiches. Blending post-punk (that's the Gang of Four urgency sort) with an underbelly of goth, and completed by a vocalist whose chameleon delivery shifts between the atonal (Mark E Smith) and the direct (Ian Curtis), although singer Joe Casey adds his own indigenous, dry bark to the brew.

Casey's voice stands centrefield right from the word go on pummelling opener 'The Devil in His Youth', while the chief noiseniks in the band - Greg Ahee on guitar, Alex Leonard on drums, and Scott Davidson on bass guitar - go off on one with their own brand of uncomplicated, heady, sharp guitar angles. It's urgent.

Casey's malaise vox is much more spoken-word than a typical singing voice. On 'Cowards Stare' his barritone is matched by the band stride for stride as they ramp up the speed of their output and complement his style impeccably.

'Pontiac 87' is all round much darker, in fact it's quite doomy. Casey impersonates a man on the edge with a black cold heart, immersing himself in the music that circles around his every word.

Casey does his finest Mark E Smith impression on 'Uncle Mothers', throwing out an off kilter don't give a fuck vocal that would make our favourite Manc anti-singer smile: "Welcome to uncle mothers, leave your children in the car". Casey mumbles through it, sometimes becoming incoherent: "You're welcome to enter, if I was you I would not". Quite possibly a diatribe that all at home is not good.  Lyrically he refuses to stray away from the dark side epitomised by his words on 'Why does it shake?': "I am the founder of myself and I'm never gonna lose it"

The band do get their chance to shine on the wall of sound that is 'Ellen', a blanket of white noise thrown over Casey's misery: " Fear of the coming in the sky, I'll turn it down, turn it down for you...".  It's six minutes long and the most encapsulating song on the album.

'The Agent Intellect' is a very cathartic album both musically and lyrically.  Its power and muscular grace leave you windswept and with their pending live visits to the UK looming it will be interesting to gauge the listening public's view on what is arguably their finest work yet.  

Protomartyr have done alright here you know.

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