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Standard Fare - 65%

orionmetalhead, May 16th, 2009

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.