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So here it is, the long awaited third album from the German power metal band Human Fortress. Five years have past since the release of 'Defenders of the Crown' which according to me is one of the best epic power metal albums ever. During these years the Greece-part of the band, drummer Apostolos Zaios and the very talented singer Jioti Paracharidis left the band. Both of them wrote a lot of the music and lyrics and that's perhaps one of the reasons why Eternal Empire sounds so different. They who got the almost impossible mission to fill Apostolos and Jiotis' places were drummer Arndt Krone and the Galloglass vocalist Carsten Frank. Despite that, I was expecting another masterpiece from Human Fortress but what I got was the complete opposite. What you are in for here is a bad attempt to appeal to a bigger crowd. It's not a bad release but it feels like they want to become a more well known band and for that the music had to become a lot worse to appeal to the Metalcore-kiddies.
Now let's move on to the music. The first thing you will notice when you listen to Eternal Empire, it is a lot heavier than the previous albums. The production is a lot better and you don't hear any Defenders of the Crown similarities at all. "Contrast" the opening track is one of the "okay but nothing more" tracks on the album, still it's nothing compared to their previous works. Carsten Frank does a decent job on this track and everything sounds rather good until the very unfitting female vocals starts the chorus and ruins the whole song. Luckily enough there are not any more of these after this song.
There aren't any fast songs on Eternal Empire, no really slow songs either. Most of them are mid-tempo with an attempt to create catchy choruses with the use of heavy guitars and really bad attempts to use harsh vocals. Carsten Frank was a good singer in Galloglass but here he tries something completely different. I would say that more than 50% of the vocals here are really bad metalcore screams which fail totally. When Frank sings clean it sounds really good but take for example the amazing intro to "The Wizard" where you can hear some of the epic stuff which was so great in the previous albums. After that amazing intro Frank just makes me really sad when he starts with those awful metalcore screams. It goes on with that kind of screaming almost throughout the whole album but it takes a short break during "When Love and Hate Collide". Surprisingly enough it isn't a ballad. Instead it is easily the best song on the album with some speed and a very good chorus and a great guitar solo. Then we have two more mediocre songs until we reach "Circle of Flames" which is a good power metal tune. Unfortunately there is a lot of screams here as well but on this one it's not as devastating as in the previous songs. Album closer "Falling Leaves" is an attempt to create some epicness which I'd guess is supposed to attract the old fans but I don't like it at all.
I can't really explain in words how disappointed I am with Eternal Empire but when I got to listen to the bonus tracks at least they showed that they still know how to write a good Epic Power Metal tune. "Guide From Heaven" is it's name and I would love to see them use it as the closer instead of "Falling Leaves". I describe it as a softer and more keyboard based "The Valiant" from Defenders of the Crown with female vocals as the extra spice. Also "Wrath" the second bonus track is a great song compared with the rest of the album.
To sum it all up, if you were looking for some epic power metal stay away from this album and check out their previous releases. If you want power metal mixed with metalcore(Powercore?) you will probably love this album. To me, this is a bad try to sell more cds, just like Elvenking did with "The Scythe" Human Fortress will not get many new fans with this album, instead their old fans will lose respect for them. I hope Human Fortress will learn from their mistakes and deliver an amazing follow-up to Eternal Empire.
Songs worth to check out: "When Love and Hate Collide", "Guide From Heaven"
Songs to stay away from: "The Raven", "Under A Spell"