Reviewed: January 2020
Released: 2019, AFM Records
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
Human Fortress are another of those bands I’ve seen mentioned a lot, but never really dipped my toes into properly. With their 6th studio album, Reign of Gold, it’s time to change that and see if I’ve been missing out after all.
From the grandiose, booming intro track of “Imminence”, it’s clear the band is unashamedly cheesy in their metal. The first proper track, “Thunder” erupts with a suitably glorious cry to battle, and off we go on a power metal adventure. They lean heavily into the more melodic style of the genre, the drums usually maintaining a steady mid-tempo and the melodies and vocals being kept very much at the forefront. Think Firewind or Iron Fire. Though this can unfortunately, at times, make the guitars sound oddly muted.
The band also dabbles in some other influences here and there, as in the symphonic sounds of “Shining Light” that call to mind the rolling melodies of Within Temptation, or the folk-y jig feel of “Bullet of Betrayal”. Human Fortress might play the melodic power metal style pretty straight, but they aren’t afraid to stray a little here and there, and those make up some of the album’s better moments. “Thunder” even at times sounds like an 80s cartoon intro theme.
“Lucifer’s Waltz” is a particular highlight, with an ominous intro leading into a sweeping, dashing dance around the ballroom. That deliciously Waltz-y rhythm immediately calls to mind Lande/Holter’s Dracula: Swing of Death album, and appropriately even feels at time like the boss music of a Castlevania game.
Ultimately, Human Fortress is a perfectly serviceable melodic metal album, and your own enjoyment of it will largely depend on your taste for that kind of thing. It’s decent enough for fans of the genre/band, but only a handful of tracks actually stand out, and it feels like it’s destined to be recalled as just another Human Fortress album.