Socialist Worker

Protomartyr’s latest album is angry and exhilarating

by James Pettefar
Issue No. 2713

Protomartyr vocalist Joe Casey

Protomartyr vocalist Joe Casey (Pic: Paul Hudson)


Protomartyr has been cited as an influence by highly artists such as The Devil Wears Prada and Idles.

Their fifth studio album Ultimate Success Today really proves why.

The record opens with minimal, doom-laden distant guitars and percussion that soundtrack the dark foreboding lyrics of opening song Day Without End. It quickly gives way to discordant distortion and rage against police violence in the second track and lead single Processed by the Boys.

The dramatic, jangly crescendo-building and feverish drums continues with I Am You Now peppered with bolder guitar and bass licks reminiscent of Black Sabbath.

Joe Casey’s striking vocals recall the haunting baritone talk-singing of Nick Cave mixed with the energy of David Byrne and the echoey production style of Ian Curtis.

Throughout its ten songs, the album jumps between atmospheric, underlying growls to the force of an oncoming train.

Protomartyr clearly take inspiration from traditional post-punk bands such as Joy Division or The Fall.

But what makes Ultimate Success Today an exhilarating listen is its cocktail of many other elements.

Prog-rock moments more in line with Yes are thrown in alongside moments of discordant heavy guitars in the style of In Utero-era Nirvana.

There’s enough surprise and pay-off to keep you hooked throughout, while taking aim at corporate crime and the underbelly of society.

It’s not short on catchy moments either. Songs such as Modern Business Hymns keep the album’s dark dissonance but will stay in your head like a pop song.

In short—dissonant angst delivered with precision.

Ultimate Success Today by Protomartyr is out now

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Reviews
Fri 10 Jul 2020, 16:31 BST
Issue No. 2713
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