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Forteresse have finally gotten around to releasing their first ever split, in collaboration with fellow nationalistic Québec black metal band Brume d’Automne, which even shares one member with Forteresse. Brume d'Automne/Forteresse contains one song by each band and is relatively brief, clocking in at a total of just over 11 minutes’ playing time.
The first side is Brume d’Automne track, Rouge Souvenir d'Antan. This song begins with a soft melodic intro, consisting of a flute section and some apparent keyboard sounds in the background. In any case, no guitars can be heard and there’s some faint percussion in the background. Then the black metal part emerges, and it’s actually quite original. The base of the sound is derived from the repetitive and slow riffs, which kind of drone on and on, while the slow drumming plays in the background. The vocals are classic black metal stuff, a type of dark, evil-sounding rasp that is pulled off very well. However, the most interesting aspect of this song is the constant presence of the violin, which really works well to add a more ancient atmosphere to the whole thing. The real strength of Brume d’Automne here is the band’s remarkable ability to create a 19th century Québec folk atmosphere, due to the simple instrumentation and the addition of the flute and violin as backup sounds. This band is a pleasant surprise.
The second half is of course Forteresse’s, and they return in strength with Profonde Liberté à nos Cœurs. This song is very good, and it’s consistent with the band’s previous style of making repetitive atmospheric black metal with a real nationalistic feeling that is inescapable. These guys are proud of the nation of Québec and they fully express that sentiment in their music by adopting a historical and traditional edge to go with their nationalism. However, the music is pure black metal based on some very simple elements. The guitars are the primary focus of the sound, sounding a bit raw but never even remotely inaudible. The drumming retains that old repetitive edge that it used to create the unique Forteresse atmosphere in previous releases. However, this song is even more interesting because it highlights the evolution of the band’s sound, which is becoming more complex. This is especially apparent within the guitar work; the riffs are more varied and melodic than before, but still retaining that somewhat repetitive side so essential to atmospheric black metal like this. The vocals are the usual complement of rasps almost all the time, except at one point not far from the end, where these proud clean spoken French sections surface.
Forteresse and Brume d’Automne have pulled off an impressive split. Brume d'Automne/Forteresse is solid modern black metal that has enough atmosphere to keep it going very strong. I see a bright future for both of these bands, and my respect for Forteresse has never been stronger.