By Shivy 2 Comments
So, one of my favorite albums is the second album from the acclaimed Tennessee rock band, The Protomen.
Their self-titled debut album told a high-energy story of a man entrenched in an oppressive society watched over by powerful robots. This man, Dr. Thomas Light builds a 'child' to pour his hopes and dreams for a better future into. Eventually the child, Protoman, decides that the way to build this better future is to defeat the man responsible for controlling the robots and to restore hope to the beleaguered city. He fails, and is lost to the mercy of the machines that protect Dr. Albert Wily, the man responsible for the city's fascist state.
Years later, Dr. Light attempts to build a second 'child' named Megaman. Light decides this time, to protect this child and be content with the company. It isn't long before Megaman decides to follow in his brother's footsteps and attempt to save the dark city. In an intriguing twist, it's discovered that the general in command of Wily's robot army is now his own brother, Protoman. Protoman tries to convince Megaman that the people refused to back him in his quest, rather they left him as a martyr to fight and die for them, without being willing to help force the change themselves. Megaman, with sadness, strikes out at his brother, and leads the attack, but knows that Protoman was right, and the mass of people at his rear will do nothing to keep the revolution going once he's fallen in combat. Still, the album ends with the hopeful last words of Protoman: "If these people...tell this story...to their children...as they sleep...then maybe someday...they'll see a Hero...is just a man...who knows he's free."
The entire story is told through high energy rock mixed with some spaghetti-western influences. The music and powerful, and the vocal performances really strengthen the delivery of a story inspired by a simple video game franchise created by Capcom known in the United States as 'Megaman'.
I told you all of that so that I could tell you this:
Their second album "Act II: The Father of Death" is a follow-up to their first album that tells the story of how the city fell into darkness in the first place, and how Dr. Light himself was a partner with Dr. Wily, who unwittingly played a part in bringing the city itself into an industrialized robotic-driven work-state.
After losing his father to mining accidents, Dr. Light began work on a robotic work force that could aid the miners in more dangerous tasks. As he neared the projects completion, he grew hesitant to take the work away from such able-bodied people, but with the urging of his partner, Dr. Wily, he throws the switch and sets things into motion.
At the same time, Dr. Wily has plans of his own. After refusing to join him, Dr. Light's fiancée, Emily, is murdered by an assassin robot, and evidence is left to implicate Dr. Light. With the entire city keening in hunt of the man, he is soon taken into custody, and placed on trial. Despite feeling he has nothing to live for after losing the love of his life, he is found innocent, against the popular opinion that Light is a callous murderer: all a ploy by Wily to gain the city’s trust by proclaiming that the justice system was broken, and that his glorious technocracy is the best thing for the future of the city. Light is placed in exile, and the city begins to decay into darkness.
Years later, a boy named Joe begins to feel that things in the city are not right. He leaves town in an attempt to discover what can be done about it. Out in the outskirts he encounters Dr. Light, who shares his plan for “freeing” the city by cutting off the ever-present communication network that Wily uses to keep his constant propaganda fed to the people.
The mission is a success, and Joe sacrifices himself to make certain the ever-present illuminated communication screens around the city go black… But there was a backup, and within moments the screens are back, and Wily has an excuse to declare complete martial control of the city “for the people’s safety”. The city enters its darkest days, but Light, driven by the spirit the young boy Joe showed begins to formulate a new plan…. Too build a robot of his own: a son he will call Protoman.
The story is one of a dystopian future, but it’s the attention to the emotions of the characters as the album is performed that really makes it something I love to listen to. The Protomen are a band that stays “in character” during their performances and interviews, claiming to be “freedom fighters gathering support for the war against Wily”. The songs are acted out on stage, and the audience is drawn into a story that they get to participate in. The music itself is epic, pulling inspiration from spaghetti westerns and the futuristic cyber-punk feel of the story itself. For being loosely based on a simple video game, the Protomen have really made the story their own, and I look forward to anything else they decide to do as a band.