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Protector’s first album finally came out in 1988, almost one year after the great “Misanthropy” EP and a couple of demos from the mid-80’s; a bit later compared to some of their compatriot mates debut. By that year, thrash definitely reached its highest popularity and got consolidated; most of the bands from the first wave almost found their own sound, leaving behind the extreme sound patterns to get sophisticated and characteristic. Their friends Kreator and Sodom, for instance, introduced important changes in their music and lyrics, becoming more mature and solid. But Protector’s stuff seemed to fit more the early evil thrash ways of the half of the decade than the inoffensive and mellow trend that was becoming popular by the late days of the 80’s.
The previous EP made clear what these guys wanted and how they wanted it. What you will find here follows that same musical path with no notable changes or progression. Each song is plenty of raging riffs, fierce hooks, devastating blast-beats, rhythm changes and impressing low-tuned growling death vocals. The speed and aggression of the riffs is totally outstanding, making clear that the instrumental skilled parts follow the thrash ways, while vocals sound more like the primitive early death vocals we heard before from Death, Massacre or Possessed by that time. The combination of elements from both subgenres is absolutely convincing, brutal and intense. Maybe the material on this album might remind you of what Hellhammer, Sepultura, Sarcófago or other bands did before, but Protector added to that thrash/death combination the Teutonic extra passion and bestiality that made the old-school music from that country sound so unique and destructive. As you can listen on immense relentless cuts like “Megalomania”, “Delirium Tremens” or “Protector Of Death”, these guys can write very coherent straight song-structures, vary the riffing properly to give their compositions continuity and solidity, and perform quite difficult (not impossible) instrumental passages. The result is admirable, powerful and flawless. Songs like “Only The Strong Survive”, the title-track or the final tune featuring Mr.Angelripper “Space Cake” might sound kinda noisy at times, like what the Big 3 of Teutonic thrash did on their first records, but still professional and far from generic or ordinary.
Hansi Müller’s guitar parts are unleashed, uncontrolled and sharp, he’s doing his finest performance ever on this album. The way those riffs are executed is nothing technical or unbelievable, proper and skilled enough though so there’s no weak spot in the string section at all...apart from the solos. Some sound suprisingly well-defined and prepared, more elaborated than what this guy did on next releases, but I’m afraid his pickin’ parts are still too sloppy and quite short in general. Martin Missy’s voice here is undoubtedly special and incredible, with his growling abilities at their best on each song, each low or high note, providing the raw music of intensity and wickedness that not many could achieve by 1988. The classic Protector rhythmic section personnel with Ede Belichmeier on bass and Michael Hasse on drums is effective: check out the harsh bass lines on “Apocalyptic Revelations” or the rhythm changes on “Operation Plaga Extrema”. No mediocrity or incompetence can be found, superior technique either. We got here 4 great musicians on a fine moment. The song-writing work is as competent as on anything else Protector did before or later, slightly stronger musically though and plenty of their distinctive composition structures that refuse to focus on a single riff or use the same tempo for long. The lyrics are dark and evil for that year indeed, but also talking about other interesting and controversial issues (listen to “Germanophobe”). The production of Jörg Stegert (supported by the Die Krupps front-man Jürgen Engler) is primitive and noisy, very dirty and basic but for a death/thrash band that is not inconvenient or really negative, this bestial material would never fit a clean polished mixing and sound engineering job. And the cover painting is cheesy, but I assure you that what you will find in the album is not!
A jewel of Teutonic vintage metal that is still forgotten and unknown. I wonder if they would have achieved more recognition and popularity if they made this record 2 or 3 years before, when it was the right time for blackened sinister thrash. This stuff demonstrates the admirable musicianship, attitude and violence of their music, and remains as a proof of their genial creativity. You can put this material in the same level as what the Big 3 did back then, because it’s pure joy and amusement for any thrash or death fan without doubt. If you haven’t listened to it yet, then you know what to do; and for those who are into this music already, just remind them it’s always a right time to relive the omnipresent aggression (as the title of one of these cuts suggests) of one of the greatest bands from Germany ever. And of course, the #76 Pokémon has nothing to do with this album.
It's a damn shame that Protector isn't as well-known as their fellow countrymen in Kreator and Sodom, but history has proven that being well-known doesn't make your music better, because I would take "Golem" over albums like "Extreme Aggression," "Tapping the Vein," and "Release From Agony" 10 times out of 10. There's a reason why Protector is adored by many in the metal underground (especially in thrash circles) and that's because their brand of thrash was different from the bestial sounds of their Germanic comrades. This music is deadly, precise and absolutely violent, much moreso than the Bay Area bands of the '80s and plenty of other thrash bands that popped up.
One thing that becomes immediately apparent with Protector and their music are the riffs. Instead of opting for the rape of the E-string and the insertion of some powerchords, a lot of the riffs are ridiculously fast and feature a vast amount of shifting hammer-ons and single notes that make for a lot of headbanging, but also a lot of memorable moments. The riffs on "Delirium Tremens" and "Protector of Death" are fucking maniacal and Hasse's intense drumming only adds to the blistering fury. And proving that they weren't just speed freaks, Protector did a brilliant job of structuring their music and showed some stellar songwriting skills with tracks like "Apocalyptic Revelations" and "Only the Strong Survive," as both start with some pretty epic buildups that eventually morph into an insane assault that have fallen upon many a metalhead's ears.
Everything else on "Golem" is top-notch as well. The aforementioned drumming adds a lot of heft to the music, as well as even more speed. Belichmeier's bass performance is another highlight on this album, as it's always audible and almost seems like another instrument entirely, rather than simply following the guitar patterns. "Germanophobe" is probably the best example of the excellence of the bass on this record and is a prominent reason why it's also my favorite track. Missy's vocals are disgustingly beautiful as well. They're lower in tone than Mille Petrozza's, but not as guttural, yet they're just as diabolical and suit the music perfectly. There's really not much more to say about "Golem" and Protector. This is just a band that makes violent and masterful music that should be fellated by every metalhead.
"Only the Strong Survive"
Originally written for Nightmare Reality Webzine.
Golem, maybe one of my favorite thrash cds, it’s fast, it’s evil, & it’s got Martin Missy on vocal duties.
Well being the average under the radar thrash group the production is mediocre. It’s not bad enough to distract one from the performance but it’s has it’s flaws here and there. As for the musicianship it’s an enjoyable ride. The guitar work is fast, but not the over the top Slayer-esc fast. And the tempo shifts are an interesting aspect of the guitar work. But this album is riffs-a-plenty, they are jam packed with energy and have a constant chugging sound, but with a slight darkened feel to them. The solos are mostly brief because of the speed put into this but for the most part their amusing. The rhythm section is pretty good, a tad loud though, but not loud enough to be too distracting. It’s mainly the symbols & bass guitar you’ll be hearing. Speaking of the bass, it has a great tone, which I really dig. But the aspect of this record I dig the most is Martin Missy’s vocals. It’s hard to describe his style, it could be described as deep growls, proto-death metal style, mix with deep wails. His style mix with the way he uses it is unheard of, I honestly can’t think of any other vocalist that remotely sounds like Martin. The lyrics to this album are interesting, & are varied, but my favorite is Space Cake which has to be one of the funniest joke songs I heard so far, & I’d definitely recommend getting the version with Space Cake.
Overall Golem is an enjoyable experience with a few faults restraining it from glory, highly recomended-89%.
Well, here you've got it: 39 minutes of solid German thrash: the riff salad characteristic of bands in this genre, low (but not quite growled) vocals, fast drumming, and a complete lack of focus or direction. This album certainly is not bad, but after listening to about 10 minutes of it (note that I denote the passage of time in minutes instead of songs), I began to realize just how monotonous and unvaried it was. Riffs here, riffs there - you know the story, and if all you seek in music is riff-wankery, then this is the album for you. If, however, you desire some sort of focus, generalized theme, or something beyond the superficial sound of the music, pick up something else. These songs could really be about anything, and I wouldn't know the difference - the growled vocals resemble Sodom somewhat, but stay at that same timbre throughout the entire album. Gang vocals are utilized occasionally, but fail to change the (lack of) mood. The drums are not too impressive, either - they seem to be serving their standard role: not bad or outstanding, but just keeping the rhythm. The entire album is played at about the same speed - fast - but not fast enough to make any lasting impression with their speed.
There certainly are quite a few catchy riffs on here, such as on "Omnipresent Aggression" and "Apocalyptic Revelations," and the intro to "Megalomania" is very well done (with the drums pounding ominously in the background as a simple solo is shredded), setting up the song well. It goes nowhere from there, though, once again reverting to the construction of any other song on the album. The other solos on this album are worthy of mention as well, and resemble death metal more than thrash, with scales being played seemingly randomly.
In conclusion, individual songs from this album (such as on a mix, or on the radio) would definitely be pleasant to hear. The problem is that when all ten are combined on an album, each loses its charm, and the whole thing becomes boring.
This is music for the sake of music at its finest - no focus, no theme, no unifying philosophy, just riffs and growls. If you are a thrash fan, buy it and drool all over it. If you want some depth or even variety in your music, don't bother with it.
As the first riff comes in you understand exactly what you are listening too, and that is a Modernized German Thrash with Death elements, quite simply and nothing more (but really could you want anything else, as I really dont). In the very least, this is well played, tight as fuck, skull pounding, killer metal with a less than ultra clear production, and a sound reminiscent of better Metal times.
Also one must give praise to the cover, cause its pretty god damn cool in its originality. Not the greatest, but fucking cool.
The harmonies, solos, riffs, runs, what ever, you name it. Its all here and played to a masterfull degree. Protector, straight out surpass many other thrash bands for their songs, which are very well written, well structured, and head banging marathons of brilliance, albeit not the most melodic (but alot of great German thrash isnt). I'd also recommend whiping a few back before throwing this on, as it enhances ones experience, for you know I have. There are many different tempos, and style changes on here (guitar wise) that just stand out, and define the bad as classic thrash metal gods. Also the guitar tone is a great aspect of this band which would at the very least add to their unique sound.
Most vocals are in a deeper, not quite death metal, like german voice of hate, but fit the music nicely due to the well arranged patterns/lyrics. Fairly original, its definitely fitting for the sound, and offers me nothing to dislike even if there is a highly standard format to the style of delivery.
While not very well known out side of true fans to the genre, those that are familiar will tell you just how killer this band was at this time period, as inaddition to their carreer (seeing this shit live must have been truelly something else). Also of note, this record has had its influence on many, and even if not largely received as such it still has a rightfull place.
If you are a fan of old school Thrash, Death, and Speed Metal in its pure sound than you will inevitably enjoy this release, for it holds true to its genre more than most will ever hope to achieve (which is something that must be appreciated). Fuck off to all contenders this is the way it should be.
Hail German Fucking Metal!!!