Bavarian Black Metal band Dark Fortress have released their seventh full length album under Century Media Records.
After four years of their last release, Ylem, Dark Fortress have unleashed Venereal Dawn after what sounds like a tough chapter in the band’s life. It will be interesting to see how this has affected the sound and overall feel of their music.
The first track, surprisingly and justly is the title track. A haunting guitar tone and deep malicious vocals give an introduction to the album and set the listener into the world created in this album, which is filled with decay, betrayal and gods. I felt I had to read through the lyrics while listening to this track, there is a definite narrative unfolding that draws the listener in an overwhelming sense of injustice, sadness and loathing.
“trees once kissed to majesty by soothing stellar bliss, now scream in silent anguish as they’re wrenched towards the sky”
The track is brought to a close with an two haunting guitar solos and vocals chanting in Romanian.
Fully embedded in this unsettled frame of mind track two, Lloigor begins with a beautiful acoustic section which is then joined by layers of soaring electric sound and an emotive solo which dips and waves under the aggressive chanting lyrics of Morean.
The track continues to unfold and intensify, broken up by chunky riffs one moment and soaring again the next. This track takes you places and while I am personally slightly unsure about the clean vocal parts, it defiantly works for what the band are trying to achieve, bringing about a stark contrast to the rapid beats that follow.
Betrayal and Vengeance begins with an “UGH” and a heavy chunky riff. Proper head banging stuff with a defiant driving force behind it. This again is broken up with moments of slower reflection.
It is only now I have read the text given by the label on the concept of the album and it is a fascinating one.
“…The scenario is that the sun has acquired a new character which deforms and perverts
all life on the planet. The only way people can protect themselves fleetingly is to anoint their skin with living blood.
This has brought down civilization. The protagonist is one of those human sacrifices left to be devoured by those
beings. Halfway through the album, the focus shifts from the outside world to internal experience…”
This might be the time to go back to the start of the album and listen to it again or now full appreciate the ideas behind the rest of the album, I leave that up to you.
Chrysalis is track four. With a new sense of the album’s purpose I listen intently to the lyrics of this track and take in fully their meaning, it’s quite terrifying to lose yourself in it and imagining you are this person left to experience this awful demise for the sake of those already damned.
The tightness and marrying of the soaring guitars, keyboard and solid and steady drum beats and bass is extremely impressive. The elevated solo guitar tone especially is beautiful compared to the dark filth of the rest of the track.
I am the Jigsaw of a Mad God is track five, some crazy imagery coming into my head just from reading the title of the track and knowing this must be the beginning of the end and the horror of that realisation.
There is a definite otherness to this track compared to the last and a definite building of panic can be felt in the essence of the sound. I think the use of the choir keyboard is especially effective in this track.
The Deep starts off slowly with layers of flittering acoustics and deep vocal drones and choirs of clean singing which then build into unclean, panic stricken realisation. Mixes of masterful classical sputtering which sound very Mediterranean. Layers and layers of evolving sounds and elements flutter in and out giving an overwhelming sense of panic and then, it abruptly ends.
I am almost nervous to listen to the next track and find out what happens.
Odem is track seven. Again beautiful layers of soaring guitars mixed with aggression until it erupts into a sludge of horror, describing the happenings from the beings point of view. Wow! 1.50 is fucking incredible, continuing the aggression but with some groove mixed in, brilliance.
Another stunning guitar solo at 4.08.
The second last track of the album is Luciforum. Blast beats from the bringing of this track give a sense of purpose while still maintaining that sense of a waiting malice that has been felt throughout the whole album through the use of slow wailing guitars. Don’t think I’ve heard anything quite like it. The screaming of the word Luciforum is quite powerful in this track and the track as a whole gives an overall sense of the struggle coming to an end.
That guitar sound at 5.0, stunning.
The final track is On Fever’s Wings, which again gives the listener an idea of what is to come. This track is introduced with a rather sad yet lovely keyboard/piano solo. This is eventually joined by unclean guitars and a pounding drum beat. This track has a definite feeling of something finished and forever lost. Vocal patterns are reinforced by the guitar riffs and drums which steadily push forward together. I love the use of a female voice singing in Arabic. Being half Arabic myself the language is beautiful to listen to and is especially effective and unexpected here. Morean’s droning vocals return and trudging journey continue in-between sections of the elevating female Arabic lyrics and the track eventually fades out.
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from that album but it certainly wasn’t what I received. The whole album is a journey of a desperate struggle and that is felt throughout but without coming boring or any less intense. It will leave you mentally exhausted and utterly fulfilled, if also slightly disturbed.
01. Venereal Dawn (11:04)
02. Lloigor (07:07)
03. Betrayal And Vengeance (07:10)
04. Chrysalis (06:29)
05. I Am The Jigsaw Of A Mad God (08:33)
06. The Deep (03:09)
07. Odem (06:30)
08. Luciform (07:24)
09. On Fever’s Wings (11:12)
Bonus track Ltd. Edition, Digital Album:
10. The Deep (Acoustic Version) (02:58)
V. Santura – guitars
Morean – vocals
Asvargr – guitars
Draug – bass
Seraph – drums
Paymon – keyboards
Cover artwork by Daniel Van Nes