Dark Fortress


Written by: EW on 25/01/2010 00:23:39

On "Ylem" German melodic black-metallers Dark Fortress are here pounding out what I consider to be a very modern take on the well-worn BM template. Having caught them live in December without knowing their style beforehand, an opening position to Shining and Satyricon now seems somewhat apt given the distinct influence to be found from these two. Infact add a dose of Keep of Kalessin and Secrets of the Moon to the Dark Fortress mix and you have the outcome of an album that should appeal across a genre renowned for the narrow-mindedness of its' fans.

"Ylem", the band's sixth album, is, as one would expect from that bunch of similar artists, well-played and well-produced; clean and deep in sound with all the key parts of the music nice and audible. The opening title track sees the band immediately declare themselves above the actions of many whom find the idea of technicality in BM akin to seeing a nun in a brothel by launching itself head first into a whirlwind of technical riffery that if I knew any better would have been the perfect opener at the Satyricon show to attract the attention of any bar-bound stragglers at the back. Fast though this introductory track may be, it belies the fact that much of "Ylem" is mid-paced not unlike fellow Germans Secrets of the Moon, who themselves specialise in a slowly brooding eerie black metal sound. "Evenfall", my favourite track off the album and a BM song which features a catchy sing-along chorus (I know!) is no blaster, seeing Dark Fortress test the listener with a cacophony of riffs rather than pummel him to the ground. They may not be the only band using this method but on the basis of "Evenfall" at least Dark Fortress know how to make it work.

At 70 minutes long and with 7 of the 11 songs being six-minutes plus Dark Fortress like to labour to make their point, demonstrated in songs like the Satyricon-heavy "Hirudineans" which can take some time to really get moving but that once they do a decent song invariably follows. Infact to say "Ylem" is the home to any bad songs would be unjust; it is however the standard black metal howl/growl (for the most part – the clean vocals in closer "Wraith" are excellent) of Morean and the overbearing similarity to other more well-known bands that may hold back Dark Fortress from climbing higher up the black metal echelon. They are here experimenting, creating an album that deserves more than just a cursory listen in one's attempts to unlock all it has to offer, but ultimately "Ylem" is also an album though that will only solidify Dark Fortress' position as a solid and reliable support band rather than one to lead the troops through town on their next visit.

Download: Evenfall, Ylem, Wraith
For The Fans Of: Satyricon, Secrets of the Moon, Shining, Endstille
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 25.01.2010
Century Media Records

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