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I can pretty much guarantee that by seeing the bandname, album title, artwork, and even listening to the music, that no-one will guess where this band is actually from. Here we have a modern progressive band hailing from Mumbai, and India is not exactly known as a hotbed of progressive rock, although I have come across a few very good bands in the past. I can see I am going to be keeping a close eye on Protocol though, as they are mixing up some different styles that are really interesting. They are fronted by Shweta Venkatramani, whose wonderfully clear vocals are often at odds with what is happening behind her. Although musically they are often in the area of the likes of Porcupine Tree, these guys can also get very heavy indeed, and moving into djent is not unfamiliar ground for them. The line-up is completed by Sandesh Rao (guitars), Desikan Gopalan (guitars), Rahul Kannan (keyboards), Vivian D'souza (bass) and Nachiket Karekar (drums) and from the video available on their website for “Imaginary Fire” they are somewhat heavier in the live environment. For the most part this is melodic, swirling, and emotional prog and as the river moves along one is never really sure where the journey is going to lead. It may involve just keyboards and percussion, or there may be heavy riffs, complex guitar noodlings, harmony vocals, or Shweta being at the front in full command. There are very few ethnic influences here, as Protocol are a band who have looked mostly to the UK for reference points. To my ears they also have a great common with NZ band Outside In, and it would be interesting indeed to hear them play together, although I cannot see any bands being allowed into this country for another year yet due to Covid 19. That is a shame as here is a band who need to get into other countries and make their voices heard. Their debut album is a real find, and I urge people to jump over to Bandcamp and give it a try.
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