Previously available only to their Bandcamp followers, Canada’s Protest the Hero have finally released their latest EP to the rest of the planet. World, meet Pacific Myth.

Much like their acclaimed sophomore album Fortress, Pacific Myth follows the development and rebirth of a few key motifs throughout its six songs. Rody Walker’s words paint a meditative portrait of death and cataclysm, sinking into a fearful ocean as fathomless and strange as the mind itself. The violent lyrics complement the hard-hitting musical assault, and while the underlying message remains cryptic, the more transparent “Caravan” indicates that these songs are, indeed, intended to make you think.

Musically, this is not necessarily Protest’s best release. Pacific Myth picks up right where previous album Volition left off in terms of style, and it certainly showcases the aggression, attention to detail, and raw technical skill for which Protest is so widely known. But, half of its songs occasionally feel unfocused, the vocals and guitars performing beautifully in parallel but not quite meshing into a satisfying whole. “Cold Water” and “Cataract” in particular have plenty of energy but leave the listener feeling somewhat uninspired. In “Tidal”, Walker’s vocals sound caught between trying to draw out a melody on the one hand and, on the other, remaining snappy enough to keep up with the drums.

But much like sex or pizza, even when Protest’s music isn’t perfect, it’s still pretty good. “Harbinger” is especially strong, opening with a gentle piano before launching into some of the most ferocious material on the EP. There’s also an interesting call and response between the clean and unclean vocals that adds both balance and variety. “Ragged Tooth” boasts a beautiful chorus, and “Caravan” smoothly transitions between punishing riffs and softer interludes to become perhaps the best song of the six.

At this point in their career, an innovative, intricate style and thoughtful lyrics are par for the course for Protest the Hero. So the real question is, does this EP have that special something, that indescribable “I gotta listen to that again” quality of Protest’s previous four albums? Sometimes. Pacific Myth has its flaws, but there are still plenty of things to appreciate here, and we have every reason to hope for more prog metal excellence in the future.

Pacific Myth Track Listing:

01. Tidal
02. Ragged Tooth
03. Cold Water
04. Cataract
05. Harbinger
06. Caravan

Run Time: 35:18
Release Date: November 18, 2016

Check out the song “Harbinger”