Released: 2014, Steel Gallery
I am, and always have been, on the hunt for up and coming underground bands. This was especially true during the ‘dark ages’ of the mid-90’s when, pre-internet, you really had to hunt to find good Metal, especially living in North America. Almost 18 years ago I bought the debut release by the young Greek band Fortress Under Siege. It was OK. Good but not great. I have not listened to the debut EP in years, literally years. It was nothing special and of course I just assumed they broke up, like thousands of other bands that never made it past the independent album stage. This year I was very surprised to get a promo copy of the new Fortress Under Siege album!
The new album is called PHOENIX RISING, maybe not all that original but appropriate nonetheless. A bit of research led me to discover that the band actually reformed in 2010, a full 16 years after the debut EP (!) and they put out a demo and in 2010 put out their debut album called THE MORTAL FLESH OF LOVE. It seems they are on a roll now with their sophomore album.
Fortress Under Siege is a Progressive Power Metal band that leans a bit more to the Power side of the Progressive-Power description. In fact I’d really just classify them as ‘Metal’. The band acquired a new singer in the form of Alex Balakakis formerly of Spitfire who has a clean, clear voice. Basically the band is the creation of guitarist Fotis Sotiropoulos, who is the only remaining original member. He basically rebuilt the band from scratch and did a pretty good job of it, from the sound of the new album. The band has made the leap from their own independent label to Steel Gallery one of the coolest Greek record labels
PHOENIX RISING is a ten-song album that runs under an hour and each song stays with an economical 3-5 time frame. The tone, tempo and pace are classic Metal with good harmonies, melodies and strong choruses. They incorporate a bit of acoustic guitar as well. It is not all that ‘heavy’ per say, but still very competent with good playing across the board. ‘Tracks like, ‘Hate What We Like’ are a bit faster, darker and heavier than others but the heavy keyboards temper it from being too abrasive. The keyboards play a pretty prominent role, they have a nice tone and are used to create some effective atmosphere on songs like ‘Eagles Fly Forever’.
I’m glad to see these guys are back in action, they have a good, regal song-writing sense reminding me a bit of Queensryche perhaps in the 80’s. If you like older Kamelot, maybe Conception and other classy bands with a bit of progressive edge, then you should check out PHOENIX RISING.