protoIt should come as no surprise to any long time visitor of the site that I am a huge Protomen fan. What’s not to love? They have an epic, full sounding rock-opera sound reminiscent of Queen or Meatloaf with occasional chip-tune undercurrents and the bulk of their material is part of a narrative that is set in the world of MegaMan. It’s almost as if they have too much going for them. They pull it off though.

I have two t-shirts from bands that I like. One is a Mastadon shirt and the other is from Protomen. That’s how much I’m into these guys: I am willing to transform my chest area into an (admittedly obscure) advertisement for them.

So, when I found out last year at 2012 PAX East (hey, we should go to PAX again sometime) that they were releasing a Queen tribute album I was pretty jazzed. There are nine (!) members of The Protomen, between the nine they multitask and all told they end up with this: 2 male vocalists (with wildly different but equally impressive vocal ranges), 1 female vocalist, a drummer, 3 synth players, 3 guitarists, a pianist, a sledgehammer player (seriously), a gong smasher and a bass player.  If there was a band that could do justice to Queen, these are the guys (and gal).

The album is actually a professionally mastered version of a live performance they did way back in December 2010. I guess production on the thing was a bitch because it wasn’t released until summer 2012.

So, do they pull it off?

Short answer: yes. Long answer: mostly yes.

Between TURBO LOVER and Raul Panther III (the two male vocalists), they have more than enough range to match the incredible vocals of Freddy Mercury. TURBO LOVER (if I’m not mistaken) even does a pretty solid David Bowie for their performance of “Under Pressure”.  The whole band is made up of talented enough musicians to be basically perfect on their selection of Queen tracks. So what’s the problem?

Honestly, they don’t diverge enough from the source material. There is a fuller synth sound than a lot of the original recordings, and the guitars seemed to be tuned and amplified to sound a little “heavier” than Queen, but for the most part these are just great covers. They benefit from having (unbelievably) more instruments at the same time than Queen did, so there’s a fuller sound, but to be clear: these songs aren’t interpretations, they’re covers

However, if you’re looking for great, full sound covers of a great selection of Queen songs; this is an amazing record.

Their track listing is also amazing and I more or less spooged my pants a little when the opening track was the theme from Flash Gordon. They’ve got all the obvious choices (“Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Under Pressure”, “Killer Queen”, etc) but forego a completely predictable set list for a couple of more obscure choices (“Another One Bites The Dust” and “Bicycle Race” are absent in favour of tracks like “The Show Must Go On” and “Death on Two Legs”).  All in all, a great sampling from the Queen catalogue interpreted by a band that clearly loves the source material.

Basically, I would recommend this album to anyone who likes either of these two bands. If you’re a Queen fan I would say The Protomen do better justice to the material than any number of those tribute bands currently selling tickets for major shows across the world. If you’re a Protomen fan you’re probably already at least somewhat of a Queen fan so this should be a no-brainer.

I give it 9 out of 9to5.

You can “Night of Queen” or any of the other Protomen albums for 8 or 9 bucks (depending if you want FLAC or MP3) at their official site.

Here we are, born to be kings; We’re the princes of the universe