Germany’s Dark Fortress have been kicking around since 1994, and made quite a stir with their last two albums, the respected STAB WOUNDS, and SEANCE. There was a minor stir among fans last year, as previous vocalist Azathoth was been replaced by Morean, leaving guitarist Asvargr as the sole remaining original member of the band. Personally I’d never heard their music before, but was looking forward to venturing into EIDOLON.
Once opener “The Silver Gate” gets underway, it’s instantly obvious that Dark Fortress are masters of melodic black metal. Keyboards are featured, but the band relies much more on their guitars to lead the charge, making EIDOLON a relentlessly heavy affair. Accordingly, atmosphere is created more through time shifts, tonal changes, and dextrous vocals than through hackneyed “symphonic” keyboards. Granted, this is very reminiscent of Emperor or Dimmu Borgir, but Dark Fortress are not mere copycats. This is generally heavier (crunchier) than anything put out by either of those bands, as there’s almost a freewheeling drunken metal feel to some of the songs. Fave would have to be the stomping “Baphomet”, which features typically evil vocals from Celtic Frost’s Tom Gabriel Fischer.
Speaking of vocals, although I never heard Azathoth’s efforts, fans can rest assured that Morean is more than capable of handling the mic. His howls, screeches, and growls are as effective as any other.
As I find with most melodic black metal, the songs on EIDOLON tend to drag on and feature one too many shifts than are required, but on the whole this is a very entertaining, solid album. Although I’m sure there are those who will bitch that this is not necro-enough (the production is pristine and clear), Dark Fortress area proven powerhouse of melodic black metal.
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