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Protomartyr Continues to Push the Boundaries of Post-Punk with “Formal Education in the Desert”

Formal Education in the Desert, the eagerly awaited new album from Detroit’s Protomartyr, has been released.

On June 2, 2023, Domino Records will release the album, which is the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2020 album Absolute Success Today. In support of the record, the band has also announced a North American and European tour.

One of the most significant post-punk bands in recent years, Protomartyr is renowned for their music’s dark, brooding intensity and stirring lyrics. Joe Casey on vocals, Greg Ahee on guitar, Scott Davidson on bass, and Alex Leonard on drums make up the band.

They started out in 2008 and have since put out a number of acclaimed albums.

“Making Way,” the lead track from Formal Education in the Desert, features a music video directed by Trevor Naud. This film continues the band’s 2020 video for “Worm in Paradise,” which also explores themes of loneliness and the quest for significance in what seems to be a pointless world.

According to a statement Joe Casey made about the record, the desert is a metaphor for emotional deserts or for locations and times that appear to be devoid of life. Formal Education in the Desert, the band’s debut album, reveals that they are examining the concept of learning and development in demanding and harsh circumstances.

Below is a list of all the tracks on the album.

The intellectual and literary elements of Protomartyr’s music are well known, and the group has been likened to acts like Joy Division and The Fall. Their music has been characterized as both raw and poetic, and their lyrics frequently deal with social and political commentary.

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The band’s North American tour will kick off on June 16 in Chicago, while their European tour will begin on September 1 in Dublin. Fans of Protomartyr can expect a powerful and intense live show, with the band’s distinctive sound and Joe Casey’s commanding stage presence.

Protomartyr is known for their intense and brooding sound and powerful lyrics. They formed in 2008 and have released a string of highly regarded albums over the past decade.

Protomartyr’s music is influenced by a variety of sources, including literature, philosophy, and politics. Their lyrics often touch on themes of social and political commentary, and their music has been described as both raw and poetic.

The band’s debut album, No Passion All Technique, was released in 2012 to critical acclaim. The album was produced by J. Robbins, and its raw and uncompromising sound drew comparisons to the likes of Joy Division and The Fall. The band immediately followed up with the release of their second album, Under Color of Official Right, in 2014. The album continued to build on the band’s reputation for intelligent and powerful post-punk music.

In 2017, Protomartyr released their third album, Relatives in Descent. The album was recorded in their hometown of Detroit and was hailed as a masterpiece by critics. The album continued the band’s tradition of exploring themes of social and political commentary, and its dense and complex sound drew comparisons to the likes of Wire and Pere Ubu.

Protomartyr’s fourth album, Ultimate Success Today, was released in 2020. The album was taped in Los Angeles and featured guest appearances from several notable musicians, including Kelley Deal of The Breeders. The album earned acclaim for its powerful and thought-provoking lyrics and its experimental and ambitious sound.


Throughout their career, Protomartyr has established themselves as one of the most important post-punk bands of recent years. Their music is characterized by its intensity and intelligence, and their lyrics offer a powerful commentary on contemporary society. 

The band’s live performances are known for their energy and intensity, and they have developed a dedicated following around the world.

Casey is the lead vocalist and lyricist of the band. He is known for his commanding stage presence and powerful lyrics that explore themes of social and political commentary.

Born and raised in Michigan, Casey’s early influences included punk rock and hardcore, as well as classic literature and philosophy. He has cited writers such as Franz Kafka, William Faulkner, and Samuel Beckett as major influences on his songwriting.

Casey’s lyrics are known for their dense and complex themes, exploring topics such as urban decay, politics, and the human condition. His writing is often described as poetic, with a distinctive voice that draws listeners in and challenges them to think deeply about the world around them.

Casey’s partnership with guitarist Greg Ahee has been a key part of Protomartyr’s success. The two have a close working relationship, with Ahee often crafting guitar riffs around Casey’s lyrics. The result is a powerful and intense sound that has won the band critical acclaim around the world.

Lead Guitarist

Greg Ahee is the lead guitarist and co-founder of band Protomartyr. His unique guitar playing has been a key part of the band’s sound since its inception in 2008.

Born and raised in Michigan, Ahee’s early influences included punk rock, jazz, and experimental music. He began playing guitar at a young age and quickly developed a distinctive style that incorporated elements of noise and dissonance.

Ahee’s partnership with vocalist Joe Casey has been central to the success of Protomartyr. The two have a close working relationship, with Ahee often crafting guitar riffs around Casey’s lyrics. The result is a powerful and intense sound that has won the band critical acclaim around the world.

Ahee’s playing is characterized by its raw energy and intensity. He is known for his use of distortion and feedback, as well as his ability to create intricate and melodic guitar lines that complement Casey’s lyrics. Ahee’s playing is often compared to that of legendary post-punk guitarists such as Gang of Four’s Andy Gill and Wire’s Colin Newman.

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Formal Growth in the Desert:

01 Make Way

02 For Tomorrow

03 Elimination Dances

04 Fun in Hi Skool

05 Let’s Tip the Creator

06 Graft vs. Host

07 3800 Tigers

08 Polacrilex Kid

09 Fulfillment Center

10 We Know the Rats

11 The Author

12 Rain Garden

Photo: Pop Klub