RETRO TUESDAYS: Protest – What For Name, When Humanity Is Dying (1995)

My introduction to the surreal and brutal realm of Slovak extreme metal came first from interest in rare thrash metal but then later intensified as I searched for death metal samplers/compilations from the 90’s. In landing a likely unofficial copy of ‘Wretched People in the Real World’ (1994) I discovered some of the more exciting acts from that era in the form of Depresy and Dehydrated but the odd and slightly cracked gems that I’d get the most mystification out of were semi-melodic Scabbard and brutally progressive death of Protest. There are a few ways to look back upon ‘What For Name, When Humanity Is Dying’ and I personally choose to see it as the blueprint for Lunatic Gods‘ wild mutant-spawn debut ‘Inhuman & Insensible’ a year later, as nearly the entire line-up would exit Protest and shape Lunatic Gods‘ early output in it’s image. It is exactly the sort of oddity I personally love because it represents a full-fledged aggress upon lofty ambitions that just falls short enough of it’s goal to fill it’s very own curious niche.

What niche? Well, let’s call it ‘old school death metal’ with some brutal and technical capabilities; Consider the first three Therion albums’ heaviness as their rock operatic began to rear it’s head (likewise, before skill could match ambition) and throw in original Playstation era video game music keyboards and Alchemist‘s wild ‘Jar of Kingdom’ for good measure. Rather than be the companion to Eternal Dirge‘s ‘Khaos Magick’ or Sadist‘s ‘Above the Light’ with blackened or progressive structures Protest‘s debut is simple, riff driven death metal that goes on occasional and ill-fitting keyboard-driven tangents a la post-expiration date Nocturnus. These strange moments are actually where I tune in the most amid the otherwise stock standard, mildly musical brutality driving the album. It’d be easy to see the keyboard work as ‘window dressing’ for an otherwise bland album but I do think Ivan ‘King’ Kráľ had many great ideas here that ultimately work in the album’s favor. I think it is important to at least appreciate the rarity of death metal keyboardists that were any good in this era, I mean just go listen to Sadist‘s ‘Tribe’ from the same year. At the very least I’d suggest following his work into the late 90’s Lunatic God albums, where he adds a ton of avant-garde interest.

If you don’t care about keyboards in strange places then there is still an excellent example of old school death metal seen through Slovak eyes as the majority of ‘What For Name, When Humanity Is Dying’ is pure death metal with love for the thrash driven Florida and UK death metal scenes of the late 80’s and early 90’s. It isn’t as avant-garde as Pan.Thy.Monium but the nods to Nocturnus and Therion should offer some awkwardly heavy value to the experience. It is an odd album to write about as it has long served as a both start and endpoint for my exploration of Protest‘s music while their early 2000’s brutal death records have long escaped my grasp and the public’s interest. But if you’re wild about this album and, like me, are willing to consider this the pre-cursor to Lunatic Gods, there should be little problem making the transition to their  surrogate discography from here.

Artist Protest
Type Album
Released 1995
Listen on YouTube Protest on Metal-Archives
Genre Progressive Death Metal

Infernal pain in a bottomless abyss. 4.0/5.0

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