Perhaps the finest rock opera I've had the enjoyment of listening to. The first album's raw, throaty energy mingled with chip-hop tendencies was impressive, but it was the glory of Act II that truly sank the worthiness of the Protomen in this troper's mind.
Shall I continue? I shall.
The narrative stylings of the Protomen are cataloged well enough on their main page; I shall not gush about them here. The musical stylings? That requires some delving. The Protomen have an eclectic mix of influences at work, probably brought about by the vast number of musicians who have worked on the project, ranging from Johnny Cash to Springsteen to mariachi music and Makeup and Vanity Set.
The first album is nearly flawless. While the first track indulges in mostly-spoken narrative, it sets the stage well for the remainder of the tale. The buildup of tension through "Unrest in the House of Light" is delicious, and the ending is biting, while still short enough that it comes off as powerful without being melodramatic. The only real odd bit is the 'credits' song "Due Vendetta", which - while catchy - has no connection whatsoever to the narrative. If listened to in conjunction with Act II, it serves as a decent "catching ones breath" before the inevitable, unreleased Act III, but at present, it just feels a little off.
Act II, on the other hand, is a masterwork. The narrative is so crisp and clean that even without the liner notes, every action can be readily seen in one's mind's eye. The characters of Wily and Light are amazingly strong, and - and I promised I would keep this musical.
I could keep gushing here, going into depth about how "The Hounds" is one of the best villain songs, bar none, of all time. I could describe the number of times I've screamed along with "Light Up The Night" with the top down on my car on the way home from work. I could vomit praise forever regarding the innovative, brilliant blend of punk, arena rock, swing, and chip-hop that The Protomen bring to bear.
Unfortunately, I have only 400 words to spend on this review.
A must-hear. Period. If you have not, head over to their website and give them a listen. There's a reason that this group has such a rabid fanbase, and it's not just because of the spiffy helmets.