Time for something a little different! The Protomen are an indie band that produces rock operas (and occasional covers of Queen). Now even if you don’t like opera and Queen isn’t your thing, the Protomen have a lot to offer you.
You see, the primary focus of The Protomen is Mega Man. Yeah, the video game character. Okay, that’s not entirely true. The primary inspiration for The Protomen is Mega Man.
For those not familiar with the general gist of the Mega Man storylines (yes there are more than one) they’re about a plucky blue robot and his epic battles with the mad scientist Dr. Wiley. A number of characters, including Dr. Light, Mega Man’s creator, and Proto Man, an earlier model of Mega Man and the source of the band’s name, are featured.
Most Mega Man stories revolve around Dr. Wiley, a former associate of Dr. Light, building a number of powerful and intelligent robots, providing them with armies of much less intelligent but still dangerous robots, and tasking them with taking over the earth. Mega Man foils these plots by defeating Dr. Wiley’s robot masters and exploiting the similarities in their construction to turn their own weapon systems on their creator.
This kind of stuff is now fairly standard video game fare, but fortunately the Protomen don’t dwell on that part of the Mega Man franchise.
The Protomen are two albums into a three album story cycle. The first album, titled “The Protomen” but perhaps more accurately thought of as Hope Rides Alone, introduces us to a dark, dystopian world ruled by Dr. Wiley and his armies of evil robots. Here, The Protomen introduce us to many of their major themes.
And it’s in their choice of themes that they really set themselves apart. They mull over what heroism really means, to what extent we must take responsibility for the evils we see and act. And it reminds, in Mega Man’s own words, “hope rides alone” and often, doing the right thing means standing alone.
In “Act Two: The Father of Death”, The Protomen take us back in time to meet the young Drs. Light and Wiley, and introduce themes like discerning use of technology and the value of work in a mechanized society. They also give one the feeling that one of the two doctors at the center of their story isn’t entirely sane. Here’s a hint: It’s not Wiley.
It’s true that on occasion The Protomen can border on the melodramatic. But that’s not often, and hey, it’s opera, right? They’re entitled to be a little melodramatic.
If you want to hear what they sound like, here’s a link to their preview track from The Father of Death.
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