Album Review: Protector - Excessive Outburst Of Depravity
Reviewed by Sam Jones
When we think of the grand titans of German thrash, names such as Kreator, Destruction, Sodom and more come to mind. One that might not, or at least takes a moment to recall, can be Protector. Truth be told however, Protector may be amongst the finest German underdogs of the teutonic thrash world. Formed way back 1986, initially out of Lower Saxony, Protector got to work straight away with a slew of demos and Eps that soon blossomed into their first full length release in 1988: Golem; a record I will forever remember as being amongst my first listens where the thrash was much rawer and unrefined. Urn The Mad, A Shedding Of The Skin and The Heritage would help Protector’s legend to grow, albums that still hold up fiercely today, however their steam would slowly run short where they would eventually break up in 2003. Yet, come 2011, and the band were looking to reunite with longtime vocalist Martin Missy at the helm (who still remains as the sole original member left now) and since then, Protector have been churning out one album after another rather consistently. That now brings us to 2022’s Excessive Outburst Of Depravity, the band’s eighth studio album, one where I was particularly interested to see what Protector had brought to us this time round. So, let’s do precisely that.
Protector, being the particularly old school form of thrash/death metal, are the kind of band that were never really going to give too much mind to their album production. Their style of songwriting is one that would rather see the vast instrumentation and vocal delivery all blend together to create something that’s much more chaotic and raw than most, modern thrash acts. It’s honestly a little refreshing to see an old school band not completely forgo their history and just abandon their former production style, merely for a modern soundscape. Listening to this Protector record brought me back to my first experience of listening to their first record: Golem; granted the overall guitar tone isn’t as raw and visceral as what they released back in the late 80s owing to technological progress in the production and mixing studio, yet it’s still great to hear Protector haven’t forgotten their origins.
Following on from this, I enjoyed how this album wasn’t a super heavy or crushing affair. In many respects, we were never going to get a concrete-heavy soundscape from Protector with what we know about the band’s history and style of thrash. However, it’s still great to hear their sound is rather accessible for all to experience, I feel like newer fans of thrash could still pick this record up for the first time and have just as equally a blast with it as you could with early Kreator, Sodom, Tankard etc. Just because this is a 2022 album, it doesn’t mean it’s not as easily accessible as any earlier material and I applaud Protector for that. There’s little commentary flowing through their sound and the band aren’t looking to make any statements, it’s simple old school thrash that anyone who loves this style can get behind. You can tell the band aren’t concerned with saying anything with this album either, due to how tracks can begin and end with zero fanfare. It’s a near 50+ minute album too, the band aren’t looking to bolster their own songwriting in any arrogant manner, they leave it up to their audience whether they’d like to return to Protector some day.
I like the fact that the drums aren’t overly powerful here. It makes them feel all the more alive when the double bass drums are brought into high gear, when this occurs the album takes on a slightly more high-octane performance and you can feel the record shake its walls somewhat more. For the most part however, the drums are very rudimentary and aren’t exactly going to employ anything acutely noteworthy. Yet it’s for this reason that I enjoyed them for what they were; they weren’t trying to overwhelm me with anything superfluous or technical, they were simply drums doing what you’d expect drums to do. In addition, the drums play just on the cusp of what we can recognise as the riffs are storming along. You’re able to feel the oscillating tempos rise and fall as the drums perform for you; while they may not be in your face I would argue they’re precisely where they need to be for this record’s mix to feel effective at what it’s looking to provide for us. Some may wish the drums to be a little more powerful but frankly, I really took to them. They certainly brought me back to a time where drums were always raw owing to production limitations.
I love how Protector have still managed to withhold their vocal identity. It’s a peculiarly German style that bands like Kreator and Sodom equally share but, of all the many bands who have utilised this vocal style, I feel like Protector have done one of the best jobs at holding onto that vocal identity. I think what has helped Protector to maintain their vocals throughout the years, is down to how tame their vocal style actually is. The band may employ that broken English, snarling form of vocal performance but, listening closely, you can tell the delivery isn’t all that extreme. Their frontman isn’t needing to go too hard on his vocal cords to produce the delivery the band are renowned for using. By doing so, the band are able to hold onto that vocal identity as well as safeguarding their frontman’s voice, ensuring future fans to come can enjoy Protector’s material in the records yet to come. It’s solid and true to who the band are and still thoroughly believable for the power they can instil into their sound.
In conclusion, this album reinvents nothing and yet I enjoyed it all the more for it. Protector are hardly a big name in thrash, not even in German thrash anymore yet, this album was a fully enjoyable listen and one that I felt myself really getting behind. I think what I got out of this record most of all, was the easily approachable production and songwriting the band brought forth here. You’re able to totally experience everything the band can bring to the table without worrying about the soundscape being too punishing to take it all in. It’s an old school band playing old school thrash and that’s something I always want to listen to. So overall, Protector may not precisely be a household name but they’re still willing to put their backs into it to craft a record worth coming back. Excessive Outburst Of Depravity is that record worth coming back to.