Forteresse – Crépuscule d’Octobresse

Canadian black metalers Forteresse return with Crépuscule d’Octobresse their fourth album and a release that falls a little short of the anticipated expectation.  Released via Sepulchral Productions November 22nd the album finds the band take a side step away from the previous more atmospheric sounds and feel to bring forth an aggressive and traditional black metal assault whilst still rippling with the bands “Québécois” instinct. Press releases call the album ‘a new epic chapter in Forteresse’s history!’, maybe a little over the top in is declaration but certainly the band has delivered a different flavour to their sound even if the album is not as impressive as one was expecting.

Formed in 2006 in Montreal the trio of vocalist Athros, guitarist/bassist Moribond, and Fiel on drums and keyboards continue to honour and pay homage to the ancestors and ancient traditions that have forged La Belle Province. The music and songs within Crépuscule d’Octobresse are strong and aggressive, commanding the listener with their intent and energy as well as creativity. From the opening atmospheric and unsettling instrumental opener ‘Silence D’octobre’ senses are stirred and the ears boundaries stretched. Once second song Le Triomphe Des Douze’ assumes responsibility for manipulating the recipient the attack raises intensity with direct and deliberate aggression. The sound is harsh and merciless, the attack raw and incessant. Uncompromising rhythms pummel the senses as primal coarse vocals unleash the song’s lyrical content. The track as the album itself shows, demands and will have attention, Forteresse not a band to let the listener off the hook. 

The songs are decently varied, tracks like ‘La Lame Du Passé’, ‘Mon Espirit Rôde Toujours’, and the releases strongest moment ‘Spectres Du Solstice’, offer and provide plenty of intriguing and compelling elements. Their rhythms consume and dictate whilst intrusive guitars unleash addictive riffs and piercing leads that tenderise the nerves with their incisive mix of intensity and acidic melodies.

Musically and the creativity of the songs is strong if not explosive but where the album is a disappointment is the production and overall treatment of the music. The band’s sound and intent is raw and imposing, devoid of frills or smooth edges it is caustic and gratifyingly abrasive. Unfortunately the production takes this too far and leaves the release sounding like a basically recorded demo, the strong elements and skill that deserve a better reception negated and weakened. Whether this was the original intent sound wise only the band knows but it is a shame that what is a good album is left limited by a production that gives the release a single tone to deplete the instinctive creativity.

Obviously personal taste dictates opinion to some extent and there will be many that will relish the bare sound and open rawness but for others what is a rather strong album musically will lose its appeal as it runs its course to become an intriguing curiosity at best rather than the essential and important release it could have been.

RingMaster 12/11/2011

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Svölk – Svölk ‘Em All

With the strength, mass, and intensity of the animal, Norwegian rockers Svölk mark their signing to Napalm Records with twelve thunderous tracks of ‘bear metal’ in new album Svölk ‘Em All. The album is actually a re-issue of the band’s debut album of 2009 with a trio of new tracks to excite the palate and feed the ear, the songs seeing Svölk thrust its musical pelvis in a fusion of classic and hard rock melded with some stoner and southern tasting rock ‘n’ roll.

From the release of the band’s first EP Beast Unleashed the quintet from Oslo has conquered their homeland renowned for death and black metal sounds and controversy. The link up with Napalm now gives the band the weaponry to forcibly move out into the world and Svölk ‘Em All the armament to rapidly grab deeper and stronger eager attention. The sounds within the release have an overall similarity which rather than being soon easy to pass over actually pull the ear in to find the varied and striking delights within each song, whilst the power and energy each track is delivered with is unrelenting being well represented by the band name which means “to kick someone’s ass, or to kick ass”. This all adds up to make the album a deeply satisfying slab of rock music that leaves the senses punch drunk by its end. 

The release opens with ‘52’ and all the riffs and flavours you need to know Svölk mean business and will play and tease whilst stirring up the pulse rate. Starting off with a southern redneck twang the song expands into a scuzzy fest of gritty guitars and throbbing rhythms, with a touch of Down about it the track is a strong beginning to the album that lifts a gear with the track ‘This Is It’. Old School riffage and thrash/rock with essences of Metallica and at times the likes of Thin Lizzy oozing out from the dirty melodies and inciting play make the track one of the brighter highlights. As with many tracks the song sounds familiar from the off but this works rather than hinders, more homage than a lack of originality.

The rock ‘n’ roll feast continues track through track in various guises from the Maiden tinged ‘Anchor’ and the blues soaked incessant urgency of ‘Sweet Agony’ with more Thin Lizzy spice, to the southern stoner juices of ’12 Times The Pain’ and the constant rampant classic metal thrust and riffs of ‘Inferno’. Musically the band cannot be faulted, the guitars and their intuitive melodies reach deeply, reminding and refreshing memories of older vintage sounds but with a fresh and modern touch whilst the rhythms play on the ear like a big cat, teasing and probing before going in for the kill. Vocally Knut Erik Solhaug is as impressive as the sounds, his Glenn Danzig like tones a perfect weapon alongside the no hold bards sounds.

The best track on Svölk ‘Em All is easily ‘Warm Within’, the song engaging and instantly recognisable with a sing-long flow backed by irresistible classic guitar strokes and play. The song is so familiar from the off but impossible to really pin down why and that makes it along with the great sound a special joy.

Overall Svölk sound like a superior mash of Metallica, Down, The Sword and many superior classic rock bands but at the same time sound like themselves even more, and though classed as southern rock/stoner by many they are further removed than say label mates Lonely Kamel to edge nearer to hard rock/classic rock flavoured by wide multi genre spices. Svölk ‘Em All may not have the newest sound to hit the ear but it certainly is one of the most enjoyable and stirring.

RingMaster 13/11/2011

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