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Since their formation in Germany of 1994, Dark Fortress have managed to complete 5 full-length releases. This current album has a new vocalist who goes by the name of Morean. He is briefly featured on their past release entitled 'Seance.' Their previous vocalist Azathoth departed from the band in 2007 due to personal reasons (source: http://thetruedarkfortress.com/bio.htm). The band decided to recruit Morean because of his lyrical and vocal abilities.
'Eidolon' has six members altogether. Morean (as previously mentioned) is on vocals, Asvargyr on guitars, V. Santura on second guitar, Draug on bass, Paymon on keyboards, and Seraph on drums. Celtic Frost's vocalist sings as a guest on the song "Baphomet." The band made a video that you can view on YouTube called "Edge of Night" (overall source: http://www.metal-archives.com/release.php?id=180415).
This full-length concept album falls under the category of melodic black metal. The reason why it is termed "melodic black metal" is because the music displayed here which feature guitars that carry with them an eerie/evil concoction of riffs, in unison keyboards, screeching vox, and warping bass. There are some blast beating drums as well as double kick, which goes along with the music. The entire release has a symphonic echo vibe to it.
In terms of the sound, there are some killer riffs which display some ultra fast picking melodies and leads. The guitars have a huge block of distortion to them. The bass on this release you can actually hear blended well with the music. Everything seemed to fit. That would include the production, sound quality, overall playing and huge display of talent!
There is a reason why 'Eidolon' is considered to be a concept release. This is because according to the band it deals with nine chapters that "describes the initiation, dehumanization, and unearthly rebirth of a transcending soul by mirror magic and astral projection" (source: http://thetruedarkfortress.com/bio.htm). The lyrics are difficult to grasp because of this subject. There are no cover songs whatsoever. The lyrical concept was chosen by Morean.
Dark Fortress shows an array of ability for this particular genre of metal. Everything seemed to fit well together. There are a few songs that are a little boring. But for the most part, 'Eidolon' is a fine piece of work. The words here are quite creative and the music combined with the concept are amazing. Don't miss out on this album!
Against my better judgment, I picked up a copy of Dark Fortress' Eidolon. It seems that the advertisements for this release permeated every magazine I read, appeared on trade lists across the internet and was basically thrown in my face at every record store I walked in. I knew Century Media had the capability to back their artists but their pushing of "Eidolon' has been borderline fear-mongering. So I caved in, collapsed against the pressure of Century Media's grasp and traded for a copy. Oddly enough, the release was not a total waste but it was far from deserving all the backing which Dark Fortress has gotten. It would be easy to pair them with Emperor, Satyricon and the newer wave of black metal such as Keep of Kalessin. All the bands utilize a similar style of chaotic black metal which Dark Fortress has picked up and copied to a great degree. While there are songs on this CD, such as "Analepsy," which show a band that might have something to offer in the future if they can escape the silhouette of previous bands, this release falls neatly into the category of "another black metal album."
Speaking solely in terms of production, the disc is like a trip to Perkins - you think it is everything you want but then you find that you feel empty afterwards. The guitars are clear, yet raw with some slight hiss. Everything is distinguishable and yet nothing stands out. The beginning of "Baphomet" offers a good opportunity to listen to the guitar tone alone. Luckily, only the first track has prevalent keyboards. Elsewhere on the disc, they remain in the distant background providing just slight atmosphere. They break through at times much to my dismay. I find myself the least irritable when I can barely hear them. Seraph's drums sound as good as any modern drums sound. Thankfully there is not much "kick click" and the snare sound is acceptable, yet I felt it to be buried for some reason - possibly because the drumming itself sounds hollow and uninspired. Draug's bass is audible as well though once again, fails to capitalize on the space given for it. Ultimately, the production is strong but retains a dullness much like a used razor blade. Morean's vocal approach is far from unique. A raspy, heard-it-before-on-every-black-metal-album, where-is-the-originality vocal style born from tradition; not all that astonishing considering Dark Fortress' Velcro-like attachment to the generic black metal style they swim in.
Most of the songs on "Eidolon" are unremarkable, standard black metal fast food. Opener "The Silver Gate" is devoid of anything that closely resembles interesting songwriting while "Cohorror" passes me by without drawing my attention away from what I am doing at all. The first song that really gets my attention is "Baphomet." Though the first three and a half minutes fly past without much impact, the song really breaks out into more impressive territories at the four minute mark. From this moment until the end of the song, there is a vastness and depth to the layers of guitars. Screaming guitar notes echo from the abyss. The whole last two minutes have a Gateways to Annihilation vibe while the rest of the song navigates between boring and a "Bewitched" styled plodding. Tom Fischer does guest vocals on "Baphomet" and that may have given the track a kick in the ass. "The Unflesh" once again drifts into this style a minute into the song. Distinctive Egyptian flavors reach out for one's tongue though are doused before obtaining a permanent position on the palette.
"Analepsy" is an incredibly subtle and yet wholly screaming track. It is the one track which has a massively infectious introduction that captures the ear and the attention of anyone with an interest in a more blasting black metal style. I would compare it to combining those black metal atmospheres which we all know and love with the intensity of the introduction of Decapitated's "Spheres of Madness." Aside for smashing skulls, the subtlety of the track is conveyed through fragile, windy melodies and a twisting structure like a bizarre glass art form ready to crumble should one construct fall out of place - a subtlety communicated again in the lyrics to the song. "Analepsy" is the kind of song I appreciate from this style of black metal, complex in its design yet not confounding. Considering the Czervikian quality of following track "Edge of Night," I nearly weep each time "Analepsy" ends. "Analepsy" shows much of the imagination and inventiveness that the rest of the album lacks.
"Analepsy" marks the high point of the album, the climatic moment where all other songs that follow are less intense, gratifying and interesting. "No Longer Human" is plagues by an overabundance of keyboards similar to "The Silver Gate." The scathing cymbal play halfway through the song is remarkable however sounds oddly enough like a hyperspeed alarm clock of sorts. The kind of clock that wakes you up three days before the designated time. "Catacrusis" lacks personality and sounds incredibly generic. Not something all that surprising however compared to most of the material on Eidolon. Closing track "Antiversum" is close to being a standout track for me though there is a dullness lingering, as if the passionate side of the track decided to elope. The song is well constructed, interesting and complex to a degree, particularly what could be considered the chorus. Ultimately, it is the perfect closing track for the album but it just lingers in a barren space trying to make it out. Much like "The Unflesh" there is a gap when the song seems like it will explode into something more than itself and just like "The Unflesh" it reverts back to something predictable.
First, let's mention the obvious. There is a new vocalist, which now leaves the guitarist as the only original member. This will anger/disappoint fans of the old Dark Fortress, no doubt, but it still makes for a decent album.
This album features great production and a good atmosphere. As always, the keyboards provide a good, haunting vibe that makes you feel a little uneasy and depressed. The guitars have some great riffing from time to time, offering some very memorable moments in some songs. The new vocalist is pretty good and makes his own niche in the new sound. So what's not to like?
The problem is that this album lacks some "soul". Some of the riffs come off as a little too cliche and, at times, boring. Each of the songs have good highlights, but they are eventually drowned by an extra two to three minutes of fillers. This album is interesting for a few listens, then just kinda falls into mediocre symphonic black metal.
Looking at it from a Dark Fortress fan's perspective, this album is a weak attempt compared to the Dark Fortress of old. Looking at this from an unbiased fan's viewpoint, this album lacks that extra edge and sounds like "manufactured evil". You can't make or force out that sinister, evil vibe in a recording studio, it has to come out through the artists expression, vision, and suffering. I just do not find that here. It sounds like an unnatural, forced aggression to pump out another album.
Overall, this is not a horrible album. As stated before, there is a lot to like here. I just find that there is so much more black metal out there that has that "real" angst (perhaps you could start with the Dark Fortress of old).
I have to admit that even though DARK FORTRESS are rising stars in the German Black Metal scene, I've never gotten acquainted with their previous albums, and thus "Eidolon" is my first venture into their world. Fans of the band will find it worth noting that since the last album they have parted ways with their founding vocalist Azathoth, leaving guitarist Asvargyr as the only original member left.
The lyrical concept of "Eidolon" centers around what they describe as “the initiation, dehumanization and unearthly rebirth of a transcending soul by mirror magic and astral projection”, which is an interesting and intelligent take on the genre. Music-wise there is a flurry of melodic riffs and epic solos baked into the Black Metal package, presented with some very tight musicianship and vocals that display an adequate range, but perhaps lacks the vicious bite to give the songs the razor-sharp edge they deserve. Thoughts drift towards mid-era DIMMU BORGIR (which coincidentally translates to “dark fortress”), but DARK FORTRESS never comes close to being a stale duplicate. In order to pulverize all chance of becoming repetitive, there are songs ranging from the mind-bendingly epic to Thrash-based riffs, of which "Baphomet" (featuring Tom G. Warrior on guest vocals) stands out.
As the production values are stellar, and all instruments (yes, that includes the bass) are clear and audible, "Eidolon" falls into what some people would call the “accessible Black Metal” camp. There is no doubt that many of the songs are very catchy, and because of this the album is a good introduction to Black Metal for people who don't care much for the usual rawness and sub-par sound-quality of many bands. However, as far as I'm concerned that's no drawback, as these guys could teach DIMMU BORGIR a thing or two about not going overboard with keyboards and clean vocals.
If you don't mind your Black Metal clean-sounding and melodic, you've got all the reasons in the world to get to know DARK FORTRESS. My own personal tastes lean more towards the atmospheric, but it's difficult not to like it when music is done with as much conviction and skill as this. As I mentioned earlier, the vocals are a few notches too hoarse for my liking, but otherwise "Eidolon" is a very strong performance by a band I regret not having discovered earlier.
(Online May 5, 2008)
Written for the Metal Observer
Dark Fortress is a band that keeps cropping up in black metal circles; the band plays black metal with a hint of heavy metal.
On this album they use keys to enhance parts of their songs, and they keep it to a minimal and use it very nicely. The band has a lot of great ideas throughout the album, but it lacks conformity and comes out really predictable. The mediocrity of this album comes from expecting to hear great things from the album after a few listens, then finding out that there isn’t anything there. They have a lot of awesome riffs that come out and force you to headbang and choruses that are chant worthy; however, they just lead to nothing or fall to useless repetition. A few of the songs, like ‘The Silver Gate’ and ‘No Longer Human’ have some absolutely stunning parts, but by the time the songs are finishing the song loses the listener with lackluster song writing. Repetition can be a great tool for a black metal band, but Dark Fortress doesn’t quite utilize it to make much of an atmosphere. The song writing of this album is actually fairly solid, but isn’t bringing anything new to the table and some slight alterations to some of the songs could make this album quite good. I think the album is too song oriented and doesn’t quite hit me with an atmosphere to keep on listening
This album has made me want to check out their earlier material to see if their song writing and ideas are put together better; however, this is a fun and interesting listen for a few listens, but then it falls into mediocrity.
Over the past few years, I've rabidly listened to "Stab Wounds" and "Seance"; I find them to have the correct degree of MeTal fury, musicianship, excitement, and the most important factor to me--- a creepy feel. Naturally, I was wary of vocalist Azathoth's replacement. How does Morean measure up? Quite favourably I am pleased to say. Those not so familiar with Dark Fortress may not even be able to tell the difference! But as an avid listener, I can tell you that Morean doesn't display as wide a range of gurgling cackles and hideous shrieks as his predecessor, but he captures the essence of the Dark Fortress sound well.
The album/material? Oddly, after all the pre-release hype about this release, it seems to be a step back for Dark Fortress...let me clarify before you call me insane! On the previous 2 releases, there were a lot of tempo and mood changes...atmospheric passages that would either segue into a heavy, heavy bridge, or just plain erupt into a frenzy of BM explosions or even some thrash parts worthy of the mighty Destruction. There is not so much "action" on "Eidolon". The dynamics and arrangements of the songs are much more straight-forward than in the past. This is NOT to say that this is a stripped down, "black 'n roll" album! The action IS present, but it is blended within the songs so skillfully that it is not immediately apparent.
One thing I really appreciated about this "concept album" was the band's restraint from falling into the pitfalls of such types of albums. These are nine songs, not 7 songs and 11 dorky "interludes" or narrations (please reference Manowar's "Gods of War" for the ultimate example of a cliche' concept album! or older Rhapsody, if you prefer...) Dark Fortress must be commended for this restraint. The lyrical concept itself, written almost entirely by Morean, is ineresting enough, and is not ham-handedly obtuse, as we are so often exposed to in regards to any occult storylines!
The production is almost exactly the same as "Seance"...rich sounds that do not leave anything lacking. The guitars are crunchy and ripping; the keyboards are used mostly as a "flavouring" in that they are not usually prominent (though during the 6th song, there are some really cool ghostly wails and eerie pipings featured midway); the drums are noticeably interesting and powerful, and the vocals are mixed in well. Listeners will note that Tom from Celtic Frost does a guest appearance on/as "Baphomet", perhaps the album's stand-out track(but not for that reason alone).
All in all, this is a very satisfying release. Please note that while I am a "snob", I am not a "purist".....I listen to everything from Dimmu to Forgjord (though I lean more toward that primitive end of the spectrum); in my opinion, "Eidolon" is savage enough for most BM fans, and polished and just plain high quality enough for those who can't stomach the more brutal BM bands. And, for those of you who have the same criteria as myself, this is a suitably CREEPY listening experience!