Album: The Protocol: Recess
Street Date: October 2007
Reviewed by: John
1. Words You Didn't Say - The initial guitar licks serve as a perfect opening to the album. Very classic Protocol. But the rest of the song loses that initial flare, never really building up into the great song it could have been.
2. Barcelona - Hard-core Protocol fans will recognize this song as a reworked version of "Of It All" from the band's live shows. While the original is one of the all-time best offerings from the band, this rehash left much to be desired. I really wish that they had stuck with the original song and recorded it for this album.
3. Entry Fee - This track features some awesome guitar from Jeff, and I like Rob's vocals, but ultimately the other elements don't come together to build off the solid guitar backbone, so the song feels very one-dimensional. I enjoy listening to it, but it really doesn't stand up to the solid deliveries of other songs on the album.
4. Moment - A truly awesome song, more than worthy of being on the follow up album to 24. Jeff's guitar catches the listener immediately. A true testament to his abilities, Rob really showcases his voice here; I get goosebumps every time I listen to this track. Chuck's drums bring it home to give "Moment" the classic Protocol hallmark: solid and well-managed instrumentation. And if that wasn't enough, the song's ending holds a special treat with guest piano and female vocals from Carrie Clark and Kristina Vanous, respectively.
5. Click - I've never been a huge fan of this song, but it is pretty fun. It grew on me after a bit, and I enjoy it, but it lacks the varied instrumentation that I love hearing from the band.
6. My Alyosha - I'm usually a big fan of the songs that put Rob's vocals front and center, but the first half of the song feels flat to me. It's still a beautiful song, but it falls short of what it could have been with deeper and more diverse instrumental backing before the bridge. However, from the bridge onward, this is a really great song, as so many musical elements come together to really delight the ears. The ending once again features piano and female vocals from Carrie and Kristina, delivering a second half that makes this song a keeper. Taking these two halves together, I can guess that the juxtaposition might very well have been intentional, and a creative choice with merit. It is just my opinion that the song could have been more balanced.
7. Killer - Rather enjoyable, in particular for Chuck's great drum work. It's not an amazing song, but it's solid.
8. Cannibal - One of the songs I instantly loved on the album, "Cannibal" stands out with its interweaving phrases, awesome vocals, and inspiring guitar. A lot of love and work went into composing this track, and it shines because of it. The style is much more eclectic than any previous Protocol song, but that is what makes it awesome. The band really pulls off this new song direction well!
9. Who Decides - This is one of those songs that really tear me apart in writing this review. There are many parts of this track that I think are truly amazing. For instance, Rob's vocals are incredible. I absolutely love how he sang this song. But the exotic drums are a little strange for me. Yet, I can't really say that I don't like them, but they don't necessarily always mesh together with the song for me. Really, I think more than anything, this song is just very different and will take some getting used to.
10. Friction - I don't particularly like the way that they distorted Rob's vocals for this track, and it turns me off to the song. However, I really enjoy the instrumental backing.
11. Escape - This song suffers the same fate as "Friction", for the same reason. Other than the distortion, it's an enjoyable song. I can understand why they chose to change the vocals the way they did, but I think it ultimately detracts from the song, as opposed to contributing to it.
12. You and I - Another amazing gem on this album. A truly awesome and brilliantly composed song. The first half pulls you in with one of the greatest choruses I've heard from this band or any other. The bridge ups the ante and ushers in a build-up to an amazing ending which is nothing less than spine-tinglingly passionate. It makes me yearn to be front-row at a show, watching the band perform live. As the song fades out, it becomes haunting, the perfect close to an album.
Recess brings with it more solid, memorable Protocol hits that are sure to find themselves on loop for days on end. But there are several songs that do not live up to being the follow-up to 24. However, it is unfair to completely judge a sophomore album by comparing it to the first, especially when only two out of the four original band members are still performing. My initial reaction was to love "Moment", "Cannibal", and "You and I" and dismiss the rest of the album. But once I really dug in to Recess I found much more that I enjoyed, even if it wasn't what I expected after 24. So my advice to fellow Protocol fans is to pick up the album and give it a chance. Yes, it's not as solid as their debut, but it's still an enjoyable album with some real gems among its tracks.
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