[Review] Protocol – Friar’s Lantern

Protocol is a 6-piece Progressive Rock act based out of Mumbai, India. Though experimental in most of their writing, theband is influenced by Progressive Rock and Metal from around the globe. The band began writing the tracks for their latest album in 2018, when they released the single “An Honest Conversation,” the opening track of “The Friar’s Lantern” released on June 6, 2020. Protocol’s debut concept album is a journey of self-introspection. . It expresses a lot more than just a thirst for answers – there are themes of superficiality, validation, procrastination, escapism, and, eventually, acceptance. The self-produced album contains 8 medium-long songs, where only Siddharth Shankar on “Gullible Child.” Appears as a guest guitar. The opener “An Honest Conversation,” as said first single and longest track on the album, an excellent Prog with intricate textures and harder veins, especially in guitar sounds. The female voice adapts well to the various phases of the track and the rhythmic session is well elaborated and at times intricate, full of tempo changes and load-bearing. “Wait Until Tomorrow” begins with distorted guitar riffs supported by layers of piano, the rhythm session is elaborated with deep bass lines and a complex drum. The vocal is a strong point as in the whole album and the more symphonic openings embellish the sound, at times heavier with massive guitar riffs and very elaborate textures that sometimes flow into the Prog Metal with quality. “Gullible Child” opens with a softer guitar arpeggio and a vocal made with atmospheric sounds in the background. After this brief introductory part, a powerful song comes to life, very close to the Metal sounds with the guitar at the center of the melodies and an excellent vocal, warm and expressive. The rhythm session is powerful and rocky and the track goes from softer and darker moments to sudden outbursts with heavy guitars and imposing dark guitar riffs with different tempo changes of fine workmanship. “Dawn Of Truth” starts with an imposing drum, before elaborating a song with an intricate structure, with deep and gloomy melodies where guitar and keyboards intertwine. The rhythmic session is of high quality, full of tempo changes, showing the excellent qualities of the musicians, the melodic evolutions are truly valuable and the vocal always very warm, one of the best tracks on the album. A dark-toned guitar arpeggio opens “Swipe Left,” one of the most intricate tracks on the disc, alternating softer moments with sudden distorted guitar openings. The voice as always takes the sound to a higher level and the writing and execution of the song are of a high level, once again showing all the skills of the artists involved. “Imaginary Fire” begins with a sweet piano in the distance on a carpet of ambient noise made. With a sudden change we go live with heavy guitar riffs, the most delicate moments are greater than the heaviest ones, with excellent guitar inserts to duet with the piano. “Goodnight Sweet Dreams” is one of the most Metal moments of the whole album, with frenetic rhythms and sharp guitar riffs, however the melodies are not excessively heavy but positive. An excellent test and a very personal and original track. The album closes with “Perfection” the only entirely acoustic track, more in the form of a ‘song’ although very elaborate. This is also a very original song and an excellent closing for an album like this. This record debut rewards the Indiana band, which offers here a mature and personal sound full of ideas. The combination of Prog and Metal is spot on and the band’s style is truly original and never banal, without ever falling into things already listened to, indeed offering a concept that bodes well for future productions. An album recommended for all lovers of the harshest sounds of the Prog, but given the melodic and symphonic ideas that are intertwined with the heavier ones, it will certainly be appreciated by a very large audience.

Tracklist

  1. An Honest Conversation 08:21
  2. Wait Until Tomorrow 07:22
  3. Gullible Child 06:33
  4. Dawn Of Truth 07:05
  5. Swipe Left 06:08
  6. Imaginary Fire 07:58
  7. Goodnight Sweet Dreams 03:25
  8. Perfection 04:03

Lineup

Shweta Venkatramani – Vocals and lyrics 
Sandesh Rao – Guitars 
Desikan Gopalan – Guitars 
Rahul Kannan – Keys and production 
Vivian D’souza – Bass 
Nachiket Karekar – Drums 

Guest guitar solo by Siddharth Shankar on “Gullible Child” 

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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