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Azathoth gone....Quality remains! - 91%

ghastlylugosi, March 14th, 2008

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!