by IAN GORMELY & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & t's often said you can't judge a book by its cover. When it comes to music, you can't judge a band from its album cover. Take Protest the Hero's new record Fortress -- in the foreground is a female goddess, arrows piercing out from her shoulder armor, her long flowing hair blowing out from under a helmet adorned with antlers. In the background, two symmetrical rams' heads face away from each other while a glowing sun illuminates the entire scene. Most people would assume it's some sort of punk or metal record, filled with crunching riffs and screaming vocals -- and they'd be right.

Still, Rody Walker, Protest the Hero's lead singer, defies the stereotype of the dark metal mind or the spit-and-venom-spewing punk. "I'm a big fan of Trek of all kinds," says Walker from the band's tour bus.

& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & alker and company (guitarists Luke Hoskin and Tim Millar, bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi and drummer Moe Carlson) are like so many of Canada's best punk and metal bands these days in that they hail from suburban Ontario.

Shortly after forming in 2003, Protest the Hero released a debut EP, A Calculated Use of Sound. The band moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, immediately after graduating and gained a reputation for kinetic live performances and the hard political stances they took in their lyrics. The band's debut full-length, Kezia, was released in 2005 on Underground Operations Records and soon caught the ear of Rich Egan, owner of mega-indie Vagrant Records, which released the album stateside.

When it came time to record Fortress last summer, Walker says the starting point was the same as always -- the dense lyrical concepts created by bass player and chief lyricist Mirabdolbaghi. Once he penned the rough lyrics, the whole band wrote music around them. Walker then came up with the (often screamed) melodies.

A new twist to the template came when Vadim Pruzhanov, of English power metal band Dragonforce, provided keyboards for the song "Limb from Limb." The track inspired the band to start, according to Walker, "picking around with some synths" in the studio.

While that aspect of the band has evolved, Walker's onstage interactions with his fans have remained constant -- constantly antagonistic. During a gig in Utah, opening for Christian metal band As Cities Burn, Walker repeatedly told the crowd the headliners were in the back slaughtering goats as sacrifices to their heathen gods. The singer says it was his way of coming to terms with "the obligatory nature of the record industry." Whatever the hell that means.

Protest the Hero with Chiodos, MXPX and the Color Fred at Big Easy on Thursday, April 10, at 7:30 pm. $20. Visit or call 325-SEAT. A version of this story originally appeared in Halifax's The Coast.

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