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Braced for Another, More Classic Battle - 90%

bayern, November 23rd, 2018

I discovered this band quite late, when the first chapter from their saga had long since become a foregone conclusion; the debut readily fell into my hands, literally out of the blue clear skies one day, and I had no choice but to sit down and “read” this “strange fiction” the guys offered at the very beginning, and one that left me quite impressed, an awesome headstart into the classic speed/thrash roster regardless of the not very appropriate for this kind of music time.

What also amazed me was how quick the guys were to adapt to the new currents as the sophomore “Division” was already an angrier, more vociferous recording which still held more than just a few pleasant surprises for the retro metal crowds; a perfectly acceptable go-between position between the two sides the band were trying to take, one that worked just as fine on the third instalment as well. And when the fourth one managed to pull off this seamless, potent blend of old and new thrashisms, there was hardly anyone who could dispute the guys’ right to exit the 90’s as one of the decade’s finest practitioners.

In fact, I’m yet to come across another outfit from the same time who were able to mix the two trends into a more appetizing whole than the one the band here were propagating for quite some time. It only remained to be seen how the guys were going to fit into the old school revival movement; easier done than said having in mind that they have always had more than just one eye on it. The fitting process never took place, though, as the guys disappeared right at the dawn of this exciting campaign… only to emerge whole 10 years later with a strong EP that brought back the spirit of the debut heads-down. Better late than never, and when the album reviewed here came out, with all the four cuts from the EP featured, it was clear that the Forte team were bracing themselves for another battle.

With the EP having already handsomely paved the way, this new opus holds nothing back the title-track opening wide Pandora’s box of classic thrash with fiery, lashing riffs the headbangers lining up for this unadulterated riff-fest which goes on unabated till the very end. Graceful nods to the speed metal hordes (“Take the Mark”) take turns with all-out thrashing assaults (“Absolute Power”) this alternation discourteously bypassing idyllic stopovers like the semi-balladic power metal anthem “Undying”. The show must go on, and it does all the way to the more epically-executed “Light to the Blind” which still finds time for a few portions of unbridled rapidfire skirmishes before another brief balladic temptation pacifies the restless battle-scarred proceedings.

Battle won on all fronts with no casualties in sight except for those who may have sprained their necks during the compulsive mosh this album has instigated. This was some way to come back in style, and even though the old school resurrection wave was way past its peak in 2012 music of the kind could have easily stirred another small rebellion within any ruling vogue. A few abrasive guitar strokes here and there may have reminded of the band’s more (un)compromising outings, but those can’t be deemed more than barely intentional snippets of semi-buried 90’s imagination, the guys firing on all fours, writing another chapter from their “strange fiction”.

With the tribute to the debut out of the way, it only made sense for the band to pay attention to their other creations, and they all came re-released in their entirety as the “Invictus” compilation a year later; in other words, the guys nearly brought their whole discography before the new millennium’s fandom who will by all means expect more similar battles on both the music and literary front in the future.