Sunday, November 30, 2014
Death Fortress :"Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable"
The album cover to "Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable serves as a pretty accurate visual description as to what you are in for. The very skeletal surroundings are of course symbolic of death, which in this case signifies death metal is about to be afoot. For Fallen Empire this is one of the more straight up metal albums they have released this year. These guys are not messing around with the ambiance, giving this an almost blackened death metal feel. A three piece from New Jersey kicks up a pretty massive sound. The production on the drums sounds like they are from a 90's thrash metal album. They do create of a sonic whirl wind than death metal does so the black metal tag for these guys is by no means unfounded. "Arrogant Force" has almost a power metal like authority to it's gallop. The vocals feel like and after thought most of the time, the lower more dismal growls sound the best. The higher rasp reminds me of Inquisition, but with significantly less croaking. This takes the lyrical content out of the equation, the only part of the lyrics to "Forced Arrogance " that I got was there is something about humiliation going on. Sounds a little kinky for this kind of death metal, but to each their own.
They blaze by you in a blur of double bass on "Fifth Season", which also happens to be the final season of Angel. They take more of a gallop on this song, but not in the Iron Maiden sense. These guys keep things in a pretty opaque blur of blast beats.They do ride out on a very powerful half time riff that captures the majesty of metal in a manner Moonsorrow would be proud of. The more they slow down to lavish you in it's heaviness the better. They take the title track into some straight forward death that is filled with interesting punches accenting the beat down they throw on your ears. Surprisingly they throw a melodic chord progression in and build it up into something more soaring. The first solo that I noticed comes in on the title track as well. It's pretty standard pseudo shredding."Pride of the Enslaver"...more s&m themes, is another meat and potatoes take on death metal. Maybe it's the whole Jersey thing that keeps these guys from committing to be grim as possible. There are catchy riffs that are played so fast they blow right by you until you takes notice the second time it comes around.
The album closes with the speed race of "Ancestor's Call". The lower more pungent vocals serve this song better than the raspier ones. The raspy vocals are on a similar frequency as the guitars and just get lost in the wall of sound. The slower more powerfully accented riff midway into the song , helps set up another melodic excursion. They show a great deal of restraint compared to the rest of the album and allow this section to flow unhampered by the need for speed. This reminds me in many ways of back in late 80's when bands like Unleashed blurred the lines between black metal and death metal. It is more textured with dissonance than death metal, and we can argue until 2015 as to if this is black metal, I guess to some extent am supposed to serve as the gate keeper for that sort of debate, but I am going to say these guys have the aggression in there playing to sell you on the teeth their riffs have , but pound it into with a sonic flow. So I am going to give these guys an 8, it's different that what you might expect from Fallen Empire, but is still quality metal.