Human Fortress – Epic Tales and Untold Stories

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Reviewed:  January 2021
Released:  January 2021, Napalm Records
Rating:  4/5
Reviewer:  Buddy H

The epic power metal force Human Fortress are back one short year after their last studio album with the compilation, EPIC TALES AND UNTOLD STORIES.  The EPIC TALES portion of this album is a collection of “Best Of” tracks from all their previous releases while the UNTOLD STORIES portion is comprised of rarities and a few new tunes.

For those not familiar with Human Fortress, epic power metal is unapologetically the name of their game.  They definitely live by the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” philosophy, as their writing style has really not changed much over their 20 year career. This is, by no means, a knock on the band.  Human Fortress absolutely excel in this particularly overcrowded subgenre of metal.  All the expected power metal elements are on full display from clean mighty vocals, to fast tempo galloping guitars, to piston popping drumming, all tightly packaged up and accented with beautiful orchestration.  The production is crystal clear and all instruments are easily heard amidst the layers of sound.

I must admit that I’m not usually a fan of “rarity” and “previously unreleased” material.  There’s usually a good reason those tracks never made it to us fans the first time around. That may be a very cynical viewpoint but, I find that I am typically let down by these works more often than I’m surprised and impressed by them.  Unfortunately, this is the case here for me.  It’s not that the tunes are bad.  They just never grabbed my attention the way I had hoped.

The EPIC TALES portion is a completely different story!  This is a marvelous collection of the band’s most popular tracks from all eras.  Highlights from former lead singer, Jioti Parcharidis days include “The Dragon’s Lair”, “Defenders of the Crown” and “Gladiator of Rome (Part 1)”. One listen and it is easy to hear that these three particular tunes were crafted and served up by an up-and-coming exceptionally talented hungry young band.  Current lead singer Gus Monsanto era standout tracks include “Gladiator of Rome (Part 2)”, “The Chosen One”, and “Thrice Blessed”.  A definite progression can be heard as these songs exude the confidence of an established veteran band.

This is a great high level place to start for listeners curious about Human Fortress.  They have been flying the epic power metal flag for two decades and are among the leaders!

CD 1 Track Listing :

1.    The Grimoire
2.     Disappear in Dark Shadows
3.     Vain Endeavor
4.     Free
5.     Wanderlust
6.     We Are Legion (Gus Version)
7.     Cruel Fantasy
8.    Pray for Salvation (Orchestral Version)

CD 2 Track Listing :

1.    Lord of Earth and Heaven’s Heir (Edit Version)
2.     The Dragon’s Lair
3.     Defenders of the Crown
4.     Border Raid in Lions March
5.     Gladiator of Rome (Part 1)
6.     Gladiator of Rome (Part 2)
7.     Wasted Years
8.     The Chosen One
9.     Dark Knight
10.   Thieves of the Night
11.   Rise or Fall
12.   Thrice Blessed
13.   Lucifer’s Waltz
14.   Surrender
15.  Thunder

Line Up:

Gus Monsanto – Lead Vocals
Volker Trost – Lead and Rhythm Guitar
Todd Wolf – Lead and Rhythm Guitar
Dirk Liehm – Keyboards
Andre Hort – Bass
Apostolos (Laki) Zaios – Drums