Dark Fortress is a German black metal band that tends to be more on the melodic side of the genre. Although they are fairly well-known here in America, they’re generally thought of as mediocre (like not horrible, but nothing too special). In Europe, though, it’s a completely different story. Dark Fortress has been getting a lot of hype, especially since their 2010 release. I’m only aware of these guys coming to America once, and apparently that was about four years ago. Séance was the first album I heard by this band, and I was actually not too impressed by the opening song, but I did like it. It was when CataWomb started that I got a boner. Although black metal is my favorite genre, I’m surprisingly not easily impressed when it comes to that genre. There are only a handful of black metal bands that I would call myself a true fan of even though there are a lot that I listen to.
Their vocalist doesn’t use what is generally known as the “traditional” black metal vocal style. He actually uses the vocal fry scream, which is typically found in screamo, metalcore, and occasionally deathcore. There are some other black metal vocalists that do this (like the vocalist for Naglfar), but it’s just interesting that they would chose to use that. It’s actually a better idea because it’s the best way to do screams due to the fact that if done right, vocal fry screams hurt your throat as much as singing does. He also just has a great tone to his vocals; high-pitched, powerful, and not sounding like he’s straining his voice.
The majority of black metal bands either have 90% of their songs at a high speed or have 90% of their songs being more slow. Dark Fortress has quite a mix of those two types of songs, especially in Séance. When it comes to traditional black metal, I’m more particular to the faster bands, so the faster parts of this record are where I get the most enjoyment out of. But I don’t really like it when the only thing that a black metal band cares about is speed speed SPEED!
The guitar distortion on Séance is very similar to that of Diabolis Interium by Dark Funeral. If you don’t know what I mean, I mean that the guitars have that really clean, fuzzy distortion with a lot of bass. Ever since the release of Dark Funeral’s Diabolis Interium, the fuzzy guitar distortion started being used by a lot more bands, especially by those from the European countries. But we’re here to talk about Dark Fortress, not a Swedish black metal band.
The best songs on this album are CataWomb, To Harvest the Artefacts of Mockery, and Shardfigures. I think that Shardfigures should have been put as the opening track because it has a quiet intro and a great buildup in the beginning of the song, which is the description of the best kind of opening track for an album. So whatever the reason was that made the band chose Ghastly Indoctrination as the opening song for the album, it wasn’t the best choice. Shardfigures is one of the slower (and really melodic) tracks off the album, so it would have been really cool to put it as the first song because then it would lead into the blasting and faster song, CataWomb, causing a smile to form upon the face of the listener. I should also mention that towards the end of Shardfigures, there is a really soft progressive rock part with an orgasmic guitar solo to show the listener that they have the ability to play different kinds of music. One last thing, about four minutes into the last song, there’s a solo, and not just any solo…a stand-up bass solo. Have you ever heard something like that in black metal? I didn’t think so.
Overall, this is a pristine metal album that has made it hard to put most of what I like about it into words. So I would suggest that you look this album up yourself and give it a good hard listen. I would call Dark Fortress one of the best underappreciated black metal bands of the 21st century. I would give this an 18/20.