Dark Fortress

Imagine getting trampled by a galloping horse, no, imagine getting stomped by a prancing pony, each hoof raised high and thumped on your head over and over and over because that pony is not making forward progress, that is “Osiris”. Monstrously oppressive riffing with enticing melodies that make you dare the collapsing sky, this is an album that warrants turning up the volume on the bass amp. I’ve liked the harsher nastier intensity brought to bear on the last two albums. If you also are a big fan of the last two discs you will love this as well, after a few spins and more than a few curses. The long melodic atmospheric olden days are gone. Dark Fortress manage an exceedingly slow pace that still achieves a sense of urgency. I’ll even forgive them the clean vocals on “Wraith” like I did the female vocals years ago. Do it well I’ll give you the props, I’m always darkly satisfied.

Of late, Dark Fortress has added a punishing aspect that many would refer to as death metal flavorings to their black metal stew, this album starts up right where they left off in that regard. In no way does this interfere with them being at heart an atmospheric black metal band. “Ylem” is the safest track, mostly fast and bruising with many slow passages. “As The World Keels Over”  is where this band is really in their element. The clean guitar tidbits, not quite solos, that stand out, that really color each song, like the somber “As The World Keels Over” or the classically uplifting of “Silence” or the malevolence in “Nemesis” stand out even more because of their prolonged absences. There is also a plethora of well placed distorted squeaks and squeals, usually a guitar trickery that appeals little to me, done to positive effect on “Evenfall”, good counterpoints to the deep resounding vocals. “The Valley” seems like one of their twelve minute songs from the distant past with new clothes, made from the cloth only the virtuous can see, yet it is just eight minutes short. The album closer, “Wraith”, is melodic, somber, heartfelt and with clean vocals with a whined edge, yet I like it, beautifully done, just don’t do it again. Think “Somnambulist” for the precedent, it would have fit in nicely on Stab Wounds. I dare you to play the last track first and then have the stomach to play the first track. It works as an album closer very well, on this album anyway, but I would not want a whole album of songs like this. Stab Wounds had many great moments. Keep in mind this is a band that successfully used the word somnambulist in a metal song, so anything can happen.

Favorite songs: “As The World Keels Over”, “Osiris”, “Nemesis”, “The Valley”, “Wraith” with pick of the litter being “The Valley.” Every year there are albums cut from top ten consideration at the end quite painfully and Dark Fortress is often one of those last cuts. I imagine Ylem will be no different this year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
February 17th, 2010


  1. Commented by: elguerosinfe

    Nice review – Love this album

  2. Commented by: ftoomsch

    It took a while, but this record has really grown on me in recent weeks… very diverse. The album closer on the LTD edition, “Sycamore Trees”, is even more out there than “Wraith”!

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