PROTECTOR – Excessive Outburst of Depravity (2022)REVIEW

The return of thrash and madness. — Although we could consider the continuation of Protector beyond 2006 a case of intentionally manufactured continuity in spiritu et veritate, and it might even make sense for their last three records to be regarded as mere tributes to the mindset and certain signature releases from the original entity, but as we’ve pecked our way through the past on Thrash ‘Til Death and mused over their larger discography in review of the previous album ‘Summon the Hordes‘ (2019) it becomes more clear that the band’s lifeforce has always been a freely-handed banner for he who’d claim it with ideal enough conviction. Martin Missy‘s version of the band has been the proper, beyond worthy vessel for their death-thrashing attack since 2008 and this eighth full-length ‘Excessive Outburst of Depravity‘ continues to make their larger argument for ‘old school’ authenticity founded in ethos strong enough to stretch beyond the expected complacent nostalgia (or stumbling, bland populism) we typically get from 80’s spawned thrash metal fixtures. We’re served the genuine article here and shouldn’t have expected anything less.

Though they are still on the short list of German classic thrash metal legendry beyond the obvious names who’d conjured the country’s first wave of spirited ‘evil’ underground crews Protector were technically borne between generations and within the sheen of a new darkness, one that was reflective of the extreme thrash metal variants cropping up all around ’em. The rise of 80’s black and death metal traits were not lost to them even as those distinctions were only still forming as fiction amongst the masses. That is to say that they’d initially leaned a bit uglier, slower, heavier and more raw due to some members clear love for Venom early on and their eventual, legendary push into the realm of Possessed and (early) Pestilence-esque death metal had seemed only natural and inevitable in hindsight. This eighth album continues to build upon the dredging, violent foundation of records like ‘Persecution Mania‘ while channeling their harried, aggressive death/thrash metal side first explored on ‘Shedding the Skin‘ in 1991.

It’ll be natural to initially see/hear a record like ‘Excessive Outburst of Depravity‘ as a prime example of the innately focused, personally defiant violence of traditional Teutonic thrash metal if you rose-colored lenses are beaming hot in view of it. In terms of compartmentalization that’d be just fine enough for thee surface levelers since the listening experience it is a bit Sodom-esque in a very satisfying way but, like their compatriots (Thanatos, Messiah, etc.) the Protector name has always been something extreme, something absolutely underground associated with 80’s death metal grit, grime and aggression a shade apart. In this sense we actually receive the best of both worlds (late 80’s thrash metal, and late 80’s death metal) in a different ratio than we’ve gotten before. ‘Reanimated Homunculus‘ (2013) had revived the spirit of their first couple of records with slower, amplified death metal traits and ‘Cursed and Coronated‘ (2016) further expanded this with faster pieces and even heavier grooves (see: “Cursed and Coronated”) and those were the proper continuation of the band beyond ‘Urm the Mad‘ (1989) in most respects. We even found the band emphasizing their slower, edgier pulse on ‘Summon the Hordes‘ within a certain slight ratio (“Steel Caravan”) yet as we step into this latest record you’ll find there is no slug amidst their blazing through these always riffing, always kicking thrash metal attacks.

For a band who’ve always been known by the few for their extreme take on thrash metal we’ve never gotten such a profoundly tunnel-envisioned, high-speed feat from ’em and this ends up being a fantastic choice in terms of leaning into an even more ancient sound, pulling from their original influences and finding an incensed differently ‘brutal’ version of themselves most ideal for expressing frustration with the world around ’em. It reeks of an unholy passion entirely fit for the Protector tradition, sounding quite traditional yet giving us an angle that isn’t so expected from the group. Well, of course if you are a fan of ‘Persecution Mania‘ and ‘Extreme Cold Weather‘ then a lot of the rhythmic voice, er, riffs expressed here will read all-too naturally as the usual compartmentalization of this band’s legacy of sound, only at this point Protector have never been so directly comparable to those realms, even on their debut LP. Riffs ride on the edge of a blade and release only with momentum fully built by their signature ‘thrash blasted’ variations in hardcore punk amped beats. Opener “Last Stand Hill” gives use a more elaborate riff count in this sense, the sort of sophisticated late 80’s thrasher reveal expected of a throttled album as it kicks off yet we find the grinding, speedier kit-skankin’ lean of the band cutting in right away with “Pandemic Misery” and “Referat IV B 4” beyond.

Though you might be marveling at the riffs, and the unholy Hell conjured by this attack should very well sustain ye olde riff addiction for some considerable length of time, the song titles and lyrics should begin to sink in at some point as we find the band pulling from history and nowadays increasingly isolating miseries as they remind of how this affects societies at large, where divisive rhetoric carried within all men inevitably leads us — To our collective doom, and without the exception of the complacent, the complicit and deluded faithful. Induction was curious at first because I’d thought Protector‘s lyrics were reacting to pandemic induced restrictions to start but the themes here indicate a broader feeling of personal frustration, imprisonment, and the fear of a devolving societal norms. The most direct nods on the record (“Referat IV B 4” especially) pointing to the destruction that national socialism had brought to Europe past and present. This isn’t all that the album is about, only an acknowledgement of the brutal effects of pandemic isolation alongside the earnest, intelligent lens upon societal faultiness one should expect from proper thrash metal. It comes as refreshingly direct, rational banner compared to the purposeless, driveling nostalgic schlock we get from better known old school thrash metal groups these days.

So, ~48 minutes of ‘Shedding of Skin‘ paced rippers, heavier on the classic thrash motions, and normally I’d be concerned that they’d thrown one too many pieces on the grill but the way Protector spaces their records roughly three years apart meant I was ready for this one as a longtime fan and appreciated getting a substantial, energized record. Some of the biggest digs on the full listen of course come when these guys are ready to slow down a bit, hit the double bass spread and find that mid-paced riff pocket we all love from ’em. “Perpetual Blood Oath” is quintessentially Protector in this sense but it isn’t just a straight-up pub slugger, instead they’ve built up the slower portion of the song ~2:00 minutes in the way an 80’s hardcore band would’ve if they’d gone death metal, adapting the moment as if it were a breakdown before jetting back to more frantic pace. “Thirty Years of Perdition” is a more Slayer-ized ideation of this modus and, I suppose for the sake of switching things up they’ve put a bit of a epic heavy metal jog and a few extended rock heavy solo guitar runs on “Cleithrophobia”, which from my point of view hits the spot better than most of what ‘Hate Über Alles‘ was trying to do. This middle portion of the album gloms slight, almost too subtle experimentation into the fiery burn of the full listen for the sake of not dragging down the momentum of the event. This should be a familiar sort of captivity for folks who still regularly spin Protector records (old or new), and it’d all felt entirely “at home” if not moderately revivified as a listening experience on my part.

An ass-kicking I accept with open arms. — When I reflect upon when I’d bought a copy of ‘Echoes from the Past…‘ ~2004 and had to accept that the original sound and exceptional legacy of Protector would most likely stay buried, abandoned and without any hope for proper reissues beyond shitty internet-ripped bootlegs and compilations it’d been a bitter moment justified by several years in a dead state. So, of course their revival and return with a full-length ~ten years later was a revelation, a general reprisal of the faith the some would still light the fires for the -right- reasons. Even then I’d not truly believed they’d keep it up and continue to land some of their best, most consistent work beyond that point so, I can’t help but appreciate that they keep attacking it every few years and still manage to kick my ass every single time. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (88/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Excessive Outburst of Depravity
LABEL(S):High Roller Records
RELEASE DATE:July 1st, 2022

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