January 26, 2012
By Nick Larsen
The Nerd Rock Feature (Part Three of Four Discovered)
A rumble builds from the sound of Nashville, Tennessee; growing larger and larger the voice of a countless Nerd Rock fans yell out to the sound of guitars, trumpets, drums, keyboards and other instruments, The Protomen emerge from the crowd. With mysterious origins and stage names as varied as can be, this band calls themselves “storytellers” recreating the tale of Megaman in the new age. Using every instrument at their disposal, The Protomen take this classic gaming story and flip it on its head faster the quickest of Quickmen. What emerges from this is a metal opera sound that takes the listener by the arm and pulls them into a dark desolate world enslaved by a mad man with its only hope being pushed away to the outskirts of society.
A tale divided into three parts or Acts (like a play), The Protomen reach heavily into the Megaman-lore to pull out key characters and concepts to be twisted into a tragic tale of humanity’s weakness. Currently the band has finished the first two parts with the third being worked on as I type this and the outlook for humans…isn’t a good one. The first act of the tale comes after the second. Booklets provided allow the listener to follow along with sets and stage movements. The second act takes you back in time to before the rise of evil to help you understand how it all began and where it all went wrong.
Act 1, also called “The Protomen” is the first self titled album released by the band in 2005 recalling the story of the battle for mankind. The story opens with the sound of the needle playing a record as a guitar begins to play, the narrator comes in a says “No one was left who could remember how it happened, how the world fell into darkness”. From the beginning you are told that many years have passed, that an evil has engulfed the world and the light of good has been nearly lost. Yet there is still a light, a Dr. Light, living in a run down tenement, Light was a brilliant man who has spent the past twenty years building a machine to combat the armies of Dr. Wily to free mankind. Protoman was born, with the one task to free humanity, to destroy anything that gets in the way between man and freedom. He brought the armies of man behind him and confronted Dr. Wily’s robot masters, running into battle he fought with everything he could, but no man would stand by him. Humanity had stood there and watched their hero be pulled apart by the very machines he was helping them fight and destroy, leaving him for dead. When the crowd cleared and Dr. Wily was satisfied with the death, Dr. Light was the only one who remained, who mourned the death of the fallen hero, the death of Protoman, the death of his son.
A funeral is held for the fallen son and a grave is filled, while Dr. Light begins a new, building another son, someone to stay with him as well as carry on the memory of Protoman. Megaman is born and every night asks Dr. Light to tell him of the story of his brother, how this courageous machine stood as the hero of man yet fell at their feet before the armies of Dr. Wily. This story drove Megaman every day to find away to inspire the people , for he could not accept that they were as cowardly and hopeless as Dr. Light now believed. Megaman swore to rally the forces of man and went to them, prepared to fight and to finish what was started, the fight of Protoman. Calling out to the people, Megaman summons the people and together a cry for freedom is heard through the streets like never before, and even the heart of Dr. Light is switched on when he begins to believe that “even now there is hope for man”. Robot after robot falls at Megaman’s feet as he approaches the castle, he sends them back barely able to stand to their master. As he reaches the steps of Dr. Wily’s lair…well I’m not going to spoil that much for you, go listen to the album, it is hands down one of the greatest things my ears have ever heard.
With Act 1 finished, Act 2 also known as “The Father of Death”, opens with Dr. Light and Dr. Wily working as partners, designing robots to push humanity by leaps and bounds beyond their own limits. As their work continues to progress a clear division emerges among the two scientists on how these new “robot masters” should be used. On one hand Light sees them as away for humans to build things to reach the heavens and develop ideas at speeds never seen before, while Wily believes they have spent enough time working for the people, that these machines should be used for themselves to get humanity to pay them back for the labor they have done, this would slowly build to the concept of domination over all of humanity. While this internal conflict between the two slowly builds, it is revealed to the listener that Dr. Light has a romance with a girl named Emily who, unknown to both Light and Emily, Dr. Wily loves as well. For the sake of avoiding major plot devices and ideas from the rest of the album I am going to stop my summary there so that way you too can discover and enjoy the master piece that is this three act story, even if only two are available as of the time of me writing this.
This Nerd rock opera mix pulls you directly in to the story, with all the emotion felt directly through the music. There is not a single moment in which you are not aware of the sorrow or tragedy or even the few moments of triumph felt through this grand tale. For those of you lucky enough to see this band perform the music live, the band performs in full theatrics with costumes and dialogue making the experience completely engulfing into this dark version of the Megaman universe. The third act can only be guessed at, at how the story will be wrapped up and how the ultimate fate of humanity will be decided. I personally can’t wait to hear the final release as The Protomen are slowly promoting it as coming very soon. Until then though, they are also working on a separate album filled with cover songs from the 70’s and 80’s. At many live performances, the band performs various cover songs to switch up the pace of the concerts every so often and plan on releasing a collection of their greatest covers in late 2011.
If there was ever a band that truly recreated a genre, The Protomen would be it. The Nerd Rock genre has always taken the ideas and concepts in which the songs are about and added an original spin but this band has taken the Megaman source material and revolutionized it with war, death, love, and emotion that has yet to be seen before on such a level. As with the previous two bands I have covered I can not recommend The Protomen enough. Go listen to them! I was immediately pulled into their music and welcomed it with open arms, becoming a member in their legion of fans. With that being said though, there is one band that I personally hold above the rest, one band that introduced me to this genre and to this day is my favorite band. In the finale to this collection of my top Nerd Rock bands, we will be diving head first into the world of Kirby Krackle.
Until then my classy reader, yes even you with the hat, read, comment, enjoy, and eat cookies!