Protomartyr: Ultimate Success Today (Domino) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, April 17th, 2024  

Ultimate Success Today


Jul 17, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Detroit, Michigan post-punks Protomartyr have been on an upward incline their entire career so far. Right from their modest debut No Passion, All Technique, the quartet immediately showed they were not going to be just another run-of-the-mill indie or punk band. In 2017, the band’s creative peak so far came in the monumental Relatives in Descent, a record which brilliantly captured the collective rage and hurt every frustrated individual had experienced the previous year.

Protomartyr’s fourth album was also their most ambitious offering to date, pushing the boundaries of what their post-punk trappings previously allowed them and finding some crossover success as a result. On paper, Relatives is a difficult record to follow up, however, thankfully (or not) most of the ensuing social issues of 2017 have doubled-down in the subsequent time. Therefore, Ultimate Success Today sees frontman Joe Casey focus his beat-poet style to a razor-sharp precision, lamenting the continuing decline of his city, state and country.

Musically, Ultimate Success Today comparatively takes the foot off the gas as Greg Ahee (guitars), Alex Leonard (drums), and Scott Davidson (bass) take a more subtle, considered approach. Rather than the rip-roaring, breakneck speed of the band’s earlier work, here songs are allowed to breathe and build more, taking surprising twists and turns is a highly satisfying way. Davidson’s bass playing is the real star of the show here, writing expressive walking basslines on tracks such as the Half Waif featuring “June 21” or the terrific “Michigan Hammers.”

The major technique employed to give this record the room it deserves is the use of wind and string instruments providing a lingering sense on dread. There is a brooding rumble that underpins the record, climaxing at the heartbreaking closer “Worm in Heaven,” Protomartyr’s most evocative effort to date proving sometimes, less is more. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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July 29th 2020

Agree, this band continues to impress with each release!