Bavarian black metallers Dark Fortress bring us their 8th album Spectres From The Old World. Known best for their blend of melodic guitar riffs, ambient keys, versatile vocals and their rapid artillery of a rhythm section. The band serve up their latest slice of this tried and tested formula, and it does not disappoint.
After the progressive direction Dark Fortress took on their last album Venereal Dawn; Spectres From The Old World features less experimentation than one might expect. However, whilst this album offers nothing ground-breaking to the genre, it does have plenty of solid, enjoyable song writing.
Interestingly, the intro track features the beeping sounds of the Soviet satellite Sputnik, and many of the lyrics focus on astronomy and physics, unusual lyrical topics for the genre. This album may not be as progressive musically as their previous release, but it is still quite progressive in its lyrical content.
Morean’s gutturally growled and screamed vocals are as impressive as ever, sometimes smoothly transitioning into higher, distorted cleans like on ’Pulling At Threads’ and ‘In Deepest Time’. ‘Pulling At Threads’ is probably the most vocally impressive song on the album. Morean’s harshes and cleans alike are delivered very precisely, audibly articulating the lyrics even through the distortion of harsh vocals.
The title track ‘Spectres Of The Old World’ features an onslaught of fast guitar riffing from founding member Asvargr and from V.Santura; the latter of whom is also the sound engineer and producer of the album. The interplay between guitar and keys is also used to great effect on this track with slow spooky clean guitar sections accompanied by keys. Another notable track is ‘Pali Aike’, which has a catchy guitar riff, the keys almost sound like a music box, giving a haunting effect.
V. Santura does a solid job on the production, allowing each element to shine through in the mix. Keyboardist Phenex (former live member who has also worked with Satyricon, In The Woods… and The Ruins of Beverast) provides some atmospheric, choir-like keys on songs such as ‘Spider in the Web’ and ‘Swan Song’, and the drumming (Seraph) is as tight and relentless as ever, with plenty of rapid double kick pedal. Surprisingly, in their current line up there is no bassist, but clearly the two guitarists managed to compensate for this as the texture is not noticeably lacking in depth and heaviness.
At 12 tracks long, this album is a lengthy one and it does feel somewhat unnecessarily drawn out in places, particularly towards the end, where the closing songs are perhaps the more forgettable of the bunch - for example ‘Nox Irae’ is a bit of an underwhelming closer. However, this is only a small detractor made up for by memorable tracks such as ‘Pulling At Threads’,’ Spectres From the Old World’ and ‘Pali Aike’.
Would recommend for fans of: Naglfar, Dissection, Unanimated, Satyricon, Triptykon