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Seance may be the best Dark Fortress album. It combines the misanthropic, deathly, and bitter themes of Stab Wounds but finds a niche in a more specific atmosphere. If you liked Stab Wounds, I'm pretty sure you'll like Seance, as it feels like a very appropriate sequel to that album.
Have you ever had one of those nights where you're all alone in some building or house? Maybe you're suffering from insomnia so you decide to do random things to keep yourself occupied. Your body is a mere corpse as your mind is still fully awake. As the night continues on, two are in conflict with each other. Or maybe you're stressed out about something. Maybe you're showing a lot of fear. There are loads of internal conflicts in your head which lead to negative thoughts - thoughts of anger, depravity, misery, fear, and more. While the night lags on and you can't fall asleep, your sanity levels drop gradually until you completely lose your mind. Hallucinations become reality.....
...This is what comes to mind whenever I hear Seance.
An interesting point is that the album does a certain transition that makes this perception fairly observable. "Ghastly Indoctrination" starts the album off well with a tranquil ambience that quickly builds up - that is, the beginning of the night. Tracks like "Requiem Grotesque" and "Revolution: vanity" symbolize the insanity continues to snowball as one completely loses their mind within the void of the dark night. The dreariness found in these tracks are incredibly legitimate. They're very Xasthur-like, but only in the haunted sense. These tracks are anything but depressing or isolationist. Then the last track, "Insomnia" fits well as the "conclusion" to the story. Interpret this song how you want, but the melodic passages and catchy riffs make me think of one's defeat against the wrath of insomnia and nocturnal wandering, right before the night ends.
There would be a huge awkwardness if Seance had all these cool ideas but the actual music and performance was subpar. Fortunately, Dark Fortress is a talented group and they fail to disappoint here. Azathoth's vocals are best here - in the first two Dark Fortress albums, his voice was kind of just "there" and didn't really enhance the music. Here, I think he's found the perfect style of music for his skills. His agonized shrieks are no slouch and only fit to sharpen the atmosphere the band is trying to make. The guitars are even more impressive. The songwriting gives the guitarists several opportunities to provide climaxes in the song. A good example would be in "Catawombs." A solo comes in unpredictably but when it hits, you realize that they couldn't have done it any better. Even better is the overall pitch of the guitars. The sound is elongated and "laggy" to fit misery-inducing mood of the album, It's a bit hard to explain, but if anyone has heard Bethlehem's Dark Metal album, then it's just like that. If riffs could have character, Dark Fortress knows how to make it happen.
Don't think Seance is in any way depressing. Instead, it's extremely maddening, mournful, and mysterious - but easy to access. The production is clear for everyone and no instrument really overshadows the others. Next time you're miserable and alone at night and you feel your sanity starting to wither, put this album on. You'll appreciate the company (misery loves company, eh?) as well as the strong musicianship and superior songwriting.
Allright - now here’s one of the surprises that 2006 will bring us. With their fourth full-length album, Dark Fortress deliver one of the most complete black metal records of the past five years, that can (and probably will) enlarge their reputation for sure. How come?
First of all, it’s impressive how many different influences ‘Séance’ contains, and especially how well all those fit together. Mayhem (in their ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ days) is what pops into your mind first, but the ten songs also contain elements which can be traced back to totally different bands such as Emperor, Darkthrone, Dimmu Borgir... I even thought of (old) Mortiis for a short while when listening to “While They Sleep”. Vocalist Azathoth also sounds like a combination of Attila Csihar (Mayhem) and Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir. All famous bands/artists (meaning: easy to be influenced by), indeed, but all with a very different style of writing and playing, so how to combine those? Listen to ‘Séance’ and you’ll know it. Secondly, the compositions are very well thought-out. Not one is similar to another, and all songs contain different layers, which makes that boredom won’t strike soon, even when playing the album over and over without a pause. The atmosphere in the music is very uniform, though, preventing you from getting the impression of switching from one band to another continuously. Astonishing, and respect for this craftsmanship.
When my rating, argumentation, and the comparisons above haven’t already convinced you to buy ‘Séance’, or when you don’t root to reviews at all: go and listen to the grandiose Mayhem-like “Ghastly Indoctrination”, the fast and pounding “To Harvest The Artefacts Of Mockery”, the Darkthrone / Emperor crossover “Poltergeist”, and the haunting “Shardfigures”. You’ll know it from then on: Dark Fortress deserve all the support they can get.
Being a fan of Fortress for a long time now, I was eagerly awaiting their next release. I was a little sceptical at first, after Profane, which I didnt like so much, and Stab Wounds which was OK. I didnt know what to expect from this release.
The first track starts off with an intro, and has a cool delay effect on the guitars, and you can hear Azathoth's cool vocals over them. Then just when you think its going to go into somthing heavy, it goes into a weird drum roll type deal, it sounds kind of like the drums in the begining of the Doors song L'America. After that it foes into your typical Fortress riff and the vocals come in. At around 4 minutes 30 sec. a cool little lead guitar comes in, its not much of a solo, but is really cool, with a nice effect on it. The riffs in this song are great too, really heavy and are not your typical Fortress. After a lengthy but great first track, its time for the second one.
Track two starts off with a cool riff, and some great drums, with triplets beats here and there, and some pretty cool stops too. It then goes into some old school Fortress Black metal riffs, with pounding drums and blazing fast guitars. At around 2 minutes 55 sec. a guitar solo comes in, yay Asvargyr!!! It starts off slow then gets more melodic, and then rips towards then end. After a few more riffs another solo comes in and this one rips pretty hard to, Dark Fortress is back my friends. After the solo it goes into a nice heavy riff, Fortress is being new and innovative without straying to far from their roots, and it sounds fucking great,
I'm not going to go through the whole CD, but you'lll be doing yourself a favor if you check this Cd out. If you like Fortress you need to own this CD. Even if your a fan of black metal and never heard these guys before (shame on you!) you should go get it. Even people who are not fans of the Black Metal genre should give it a listen, there a re some great heavy riffs in hear that stray from the typical black metal riffs, but thats not a bad thing at all. The production is top notch to. The Fortress Has Been Rebuilt, All HAil Dark Fortress...