Though it entered the U.S. through the same label that gave us the Get Up Kids and Dashboard Confessional, Canadian prog-metal whiz-kid Protest The Hero proved closer to Dream Theater and Death (simultaneously!) with its 2005 Vagrant debut, Kezia. The follow-up, Fortress, mines similar territory but cranks the ferocity even higher. Divided into three suites, the album's 10 tracks shift from dizzying guitar runs ("Bone Marrow") to synthesized orchestral swells to 900-mph meter changes that make The Dillinger Escape Plan sound lazy. Still, in spite of virtuosic shredding and Cookie Monster vocal accents (the most polarizing part of otherwise awesome cuts like "The Dissentience"), Fortress ultimately sticks in the head off the power of PTH's melodies. Maybe the jump from Get Up Kids to this stuff isn't so illogical after all.

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