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Back to the roots?! - 76%

nilgoun, December 18th, 2011

The intro tries to suggest, that this record will feature ambient black metal, as spherical synthesizer sounds are introduced. The body of sound could remind you of some “space” metal, like the lately released Alpha Eri of Alrakis. Just when you started to look forward to those trancelike sounds, you get a boot right into your face, as the transition between the intro and the next song Le triomphe des douze is quite harsh and unexpected. The only thing, that really is clear at this point, is the fact that this record will go back to the roots and therefore feature this Métal Noir Québécois style.

This means, that the record mostly features oldschool black metal, which follows the well-trodden paths in terms of orchestration and structures. Tremolo picked guitars are accompanied by doublebass-attacks, mid-tempo blast beats and quite subtle, resounding vocals. There aren’t much riffs played per song, but that isn’t really surprising as this record clearly follows the footsteps of their debut, but as there is a lack of variation the songs seem to be too long and monotonous some times. Although they often tend to become boring they usually turn the corner and pop another riff or variation that manages to catch your attention. You have to emphasize that their riffs are usually high-class or at least upper-intermediate and therefore manage to be quite entertaining over a long time – compared to many 08/15 bands that are out there.

Sadly, there is nearly nothing (new) left to explore besides those good riffs. The songs reside on the aforementioned pattern without being strong enough to put you in extase/trance. The only thing left worth to be mentioned are the scattered samples Forteresse used to spice things up. For instance the beginning of La lame du passé features some country/folk song on a public fair and the song ends with some heavy gust of wind that carries you to the next song in which some heavy riffs are played. This moments are the highlight of the record, but they could have been a bit more innovative or at least varied, as the intro of Spectres des solstice is exactly the same as La lame du passé. The production is quite filthy and therefore everything is a bit dull, but this goes nicely with the records theme.

Conclusion:

Forteresse surely didn’t release a masterpiece with this record, but it’s far from bad either. The melodies are well composed and are able to catch your attention, but as they are reproduced so often the tracks tend to become boring after a while. There should have been more variation in terms of songstructures or melodies – or at least less playing time per track as the tracks would have been more exciting and therefore the record could have been above average. If you liked Métal Noir Québécois you should like this one as well, fans of their ambient record should give it a try, although they could be dissappointed.

Originally written for http://threnodies.com

A mild, meandering mollification - 60%

autothrall, November 22nd, 2011

With their fourth full-length, Crépuscule d'Octobre, Quebec black metallers Forteresse have gone a more traditional route for their parent genre. Their music still conjures up longing, wide open spaces due to the heavy atmosphere that its repetition invokes, but the actual music is pretty straightforward, formulaic black metal with surges of predictable chord patterns above which are strung these stringy, thin tremolo lines that likewise cycle themselves almost. The result is an album which unfortunately wears out its welcome too soon. The majority of the songs eclipse 9 minutes in length with very little internal variation or anything much happening, so the band is relying heavily on the listener succumbing to some trance that never really happens here...

I'm not saying that Forteresse were ever necessarily some bastion of creativity, but I found the songs on the previous full-length Par Hauts Bois et Vastes Plaines to be much more expansive, lush and gripping than these. There, the trio had their airy stretches of atmosphere down to an exact science, but this takes a more aggressive turn, with a lot of standard blasting tempos in which the streams of chords never offer anything extraordinary. The melody lines are indeed pleasant, but too often repeated to death. Often I'll feel like four or six cycles through the same note progression are more than adequate, but they go far beyond that here. Some of the songs like "La lame du passé" or "Spectres du Solstice" are little more than two riffs alternating for almost 10 minutes, and while I like how the guitars serve as a windswept plain that the vocals carve into like scythes, most of the songs simply stretch too wide over the same core concepts. It certainly would not have hurt to incorporate a wider dynamic range, because as it stands, the writing almost feels lazy.

That being said, there are still several elusive traits to the music which prevent me from truly loathing it. For one, I like how the vocals, melodies and chords all interact together to feel as if they're always approaching the listener from a distance. I enjoyed the stark ambient intro to the album: "Silence d'Octobre" to the extent that I hoped for more such passages throughout, French spoken word samples and all. Actually, all of the little folkish dressings to the album are welcome. They feel unique, giving us a good sense of who Forteresse are. Where they come from. Where they want to go. If only these features were more prominent throughout the meat of the metal cuts...because they always seem in desperate need of something more. It does feel like the minimalism of the song structures was intentional, and this is a technique that functions well enough with more hypnotic compositional skill, but here the hooks arrive and depart like bird calls in the breeze, to little enduring effect.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com