Reviewed: May 2020
Released: 2020, Century Media
Reviewer: Kira Levine
Spectres From The Old World is album number eight from the mighty melodic black metallers Dark Fortress. The band – formed in Landshut, Bavaria (Germany) – seem to lead a little more with their dark approach in terms of songwriting with, in comparison to their previous release Venereal Dawn six years ago.
‘Nascence’ opens like a radio transmission, flowing seamlessly into the massive ‘Coalescence’ and it is easy to regard the two as one, which reads as a subtle reference to the latter’s name.
One of the most energetic tracks from the outset is ‘The Spider in the Web’, with its bombastic vocals, soaring solos and atmospheric keys. A spoken word section that references the track title really gives way for the lyrics to breathe.
Title track ‘Spectres from the Old World’ is an unclean vocal strong point on the album, with its mellow finish contrasting its explosive start. Thundering drums announce ‘Pali Aike’, which manages to sound massive even while not having any high-paced moments as much of Spectres From The Old World does, offering variety between the twelve tracks.
‘Pazuzu’ sports a dazzling guitar solo, which darkly sparkles between Morean’s crushing vocals. Like track five, ’Isa’ is less concerned with speed yet is still able to project itself as a parrticularly strong number.
Running at three and a quarter minutes, ‘Pulling At Threads’ is the shortest aside from the intro ‘Nascence’ and forthcoming ‘Penrose Procession’, the latter being an instrumental. It’s the first track to occasionally utilise clean melodic vocals, demonstrating the versatility of the frontman.
The percussion delivered by Seraph throughout ‘In Deepest Time’ creates a sense of foreboding, and the resurgence of clean vocals during the chorus offers a welcomed contrast to the much-used unclean style.
Wordless ‘Penrose Procession’ adds an unmistakable ethereal vibe to the album, followed by ’Swan Song’ which is the longest song on this release. The combination of unclean and melodic singing work to spectacular effect here, entwined with buzzing guitars from V. Santura and Asvargr.
‘Nox Irae’ hosts lyrics in Latin only that make references to death. This gives Spectres From The Old World an ominous finale, along with the funeral toll-like percussion that sounds throughout.
For a record that largely implements harsh vocal techniques, there is much variation in the delivery style. Asvargr’s deft guitar work is laced into each and every track, very much in the forefront of the various symphonic and atmospheric elements. A behemoth of an album from the German quintet, showing that they still have what it takes after more than a quarter of a century.