Protected Left – Songs of the Doomed (EP)

Songs of the Doomed coverHailing from Michigan’s Grand Rapids and the fantastically named Kalamazoo, Protected Left play fast-paced melodic hardcore punk rock. They’re far from alone in this, but it’s hard to deny that they do it well. Take opener ‘Nightmare’, driven by an almost unrelenting punk drumbeat (you know, whacking the snares on the 2nd and 4th beat… you have heard this drumbeat a thousand times!) that only pulls back for the song’s bridge; the meat on the song’s bones is composed of fast and simple power chord progressions with a vocal line that faithfully follows along.

The band have thoughtfully sent me the lyric sheet for these three songs, and I can say that all three opt for articulations of self-doubt, fear of ageing and failing; that kinda thing. That there’s such a consistent lyrical theme speaks well of the passion and honesty behind these words, but they’re so cloaked in ambiguity, and lacking specificity, that they never really stick in the mind – despite nice turns of phrase like “resolve became rigid / and in the end he’d crack”.

Second track ‘At least I didn’t cut my ear off’ (perhaps a reference to Van Gogh’s self-mutilation due to loneliness?) is not dissimilar to ‘Nightmare’, with perhaps a bit more of a 90s punk vibe to it – though that could just be the rather fun gang vocals they’ve included. ‘Elk Antlers’ is probably my favourite of the trio, with an excellent chord progression in the chorus, chuck full of catchy octave chords and some sweet chuggy moments, and an excellent extended punk solo toward the end.

There’s nothing new on display here, but fans of bands like Bouncing Souls, Handgun Bravado or local – to me – lads Houston Has A Problem will dig what Protected Left do. Personally I hope that in the future they establish a clearer identity both musically and lyrically, because they clearly have the chops to make this work.

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