Teutonic Thrash veterans Protector’s new album completes what one can only describe as a classical hat-trick. After a glorious return to original form on “Reanimated Homunculus” with a wholly new line-up and its successor “Cursed and Coronated”, Martin Missy and company again hit the proverbial bull’s eye with “Summon the Hordes”, an epitome of consolidation and rejuvenation at once.
“The songwriting process changed a bit when it came to work on another record,” says the frontman. As opposed to composing only one track like on our previous efforts since the reunion, this time around, I contributed three tracks, whereas our bass player handed in two lyrics; this is new, for in the past, the singer alone was responsible in this regard.” Involving his younger fellow-musicians even more than as of late makes perfect sense, because “they have become an integral part of Protector since 2011 and understand very well what a good thrash song in the 80s vein needs.”
There he said it, yet while “Summon the Hordes” harks back to that groundbreaking decade as one could have expected, Protector would not be themselves if they had not build in certain twists and updated their working procedures. Most prominently, as opposed to its predecessors with their Swedeath-infused ambience courtesy of Tomas Skogsberg and legendary Sunlight Studios, the new material boasts the production values of no other than the iconic Harris Johns, who has long since gone into the annals of metal for shaping not just the German scene’s sound aesthetic, as shown on a whole host of seminal genre releases.
Connoisseurs might perk up here, since it’s actually not his first venture with the group, although a novel experience for Martin. “In 1991, I I was not in the band anymore, so Olly Wiebel sang on ‘A Shedding of Skin’ when Protector went to Harris. I got to know him at one of our shows in Berlin in 2013 and wanted to collaborate with the man ever since. Five years later, it eventually happened and could not have been easier or relaxed.”
Content-wise though, “Summon the Hordes” is far from laid back. Whereas the partly groovy ‘Three Legions’ takes us to the military exploits of the Roman Empire and short outburst ‘Glove of Love’ makes for a fun finale in the tradition of “Golem”-ditty ‘Spacecake’, the furious ‘Meaningless Eradication’ displays socio- and geopolitical awareness. “It’s about the extinction of cultures and languages by conquering nations, an issue of topical interest these days if you ask me.”
Elsewhere, ‘Steel Caravan’ describes touring life where “the actual gig pays you back for exhaustive travel” while ‘Unity, Anthems and Pandemonium’ refers to “metal festivals from a fan perspective – enjoying music and partying, that’s what it’s all about.” Likewise noteworthy, surprisingly mid-tempo opener ‘Stillwell Avenue’ is based on 1979 movie “The Warriors”, and the truly heavy ‘Two Ton Behemoth’ pays homage to – yes, indeed – “hippos. It might seem tongue-in-cheek, but their plump appearance belies how aggressive they can get.”
Rounded up by ‘The Celtic Hammer’, a tribute in pace and style to Missy’s contemporary Tom G. Warrior and his legacy with Celtic Frost as well as Hellhammer, the instant success of “Summon the Hordes” amongst several generations of thrashers seems almost guaranteed – not least thanks to another premiere for Protector, the crowning visuals of Croatian artist Andrej Bartulovic. “The cover alludes to the one we used for our comeback demo ‘The Return of Thrash and Madness’: a deadhead, the insignia of our homes in Wolfsburg and Bohuslän, crossed Flying V guitars. Dominating reds maintain the uniformity established on our last two records with blue and green respectively.”
Unlike those however, the current stuff needs neither prominent guest appearances nor older riff ideas. Missy is rightfully optimistic about the near and distant future without losing his grip on the reality of being – and staying – an underground act. “We are content with what we have managed to do so far. The relationship with our record label is great, the group will keep touring Europe but hardly expand its territory because of my claustrophobia and fear of flying. For my taste, we could play at more festials. Other than that, more festival dates would be the icing on the cake.”