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Still inspired and energetic after a decade - 75%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, May 10th, 2017

Great to see Forteresse after a whole decade since I first reviewed something of theirs, still doing what they love best: fast blizzard-like black metal that expresses their love of the land of Quebec and Quebecois culture and history - and still playing that music with fire and passion. You'd think after all this time these guys might be a bit jaded or maybe disillusioned with the direction Quebec and Canada are going in under the captaincy of one Justin Bieber Trudeau. Well disillusioned they may be about where Canada might be headed but apart from that the music forges its own path ahead with grim and aggressive determination. Forteresse's style seems clearer and better defined than when last I heard it (though earlier recordings may have just had poorer production jobs) and as a result it sounds as if its fangs are bigger, whiter and definitely a lot sharper.

The songs aren't that distinct from one another - that's one thing about Forteresse that hasn't changed much at all - as the music is intended more as immersion in a particular sonic universe and an expression of particular emotions and feelings than as a set of songs to sing along to. On most tracks the music is mainly a backdrop for the lyrics which bang on celebrating Quebec's history, in particular its people's revolutionary spirit and their willingness to defend and die for their land and traditions. However if you are interested in the lyrics, you'll need a lyric sheet to follow as the vocals are deeply shrouded in reverb that give them a ghostly edge. As usual, the guitars and percussion charge at hypermanic speeds and the sound is tinny and brittle. Rhythms on some tracks have a definite groove, sometimes even a melody, and these might be the most distinctive parts of the songs.

Track "La lame du passé" and "Le sang des héros" are typical Forteresse: very shrill and repetitive tremolo guitars, harsh ranting vocals, folk tunes in parts and a lower bass hum that give the tracks drama and a definite backbone holding everything together. While these and other songs don't deviate from the formula that the band has mined for the past ten years, they don't sound tired either, thanks to the musicians' energy and enthusiasm and a stubborn attitude that just goes straight for the jugular and which disdains fashion and trendiness. Play the songs a few times and you'll find some catchy hooks among the noisy pointillist guitar cocoons.

The band won't win new audiences but as long as the guys and their core fanbase are happy with their direction and style, the music remains energetic and spirited, and Forteresse still find inspiration in their chosen themes, I wish them well for as long as they last.