Unleashing five reasons why closer attention is warranted and deserved by Essex quintet Fortify, the Valhalla EP shows that British pop infused rock is still one lively temptation. The release is maybe not the most unique offering, the band’s sound embracing recognisable and familiar essences, yet it is hard to suggest there is nothing fresh and of individual character about each and every song within Valhalla.
Emerging in 2015, Fortify have increasingly earned support and praise through a live presence which has seen them play with the likes of Chapter And Verse, Create To Inspire, and TheCityIsOurs as well as debut single Emergency Exit which came out last year. It hinted at a power and creativity within the band’s sound and songwriting now loudly vocal within Valhalla, itself also fuelled by a potential which adds to the anticipation of their future creative horizons.
In many ways creating something akin to a fusion of A Day To Remember, Paramore, and We Are The In Crowd, Fortify quickly lure ears with opener What About Us. Swiftly the guitars of Kieran McLoughlin Spink and Charlie Fallows entangle ears in spicy tendrils and rapacious riffs as the swinging beats of drummer Jamie Smith bite. Each, with the heavier darker tones of Billy Byford’s bass as rich, enticing the imagination until the magnetic voice of Anna Louise comes forth to momentarily steal attention. With an organic power and expressive dexterity to her presence, she adds greater fire to the catchy and smartly crafted song, sizzling away even when the encounter slips into mellower waters.
Next up, Survivors saunters in on a more reserved energy but one as the sounds it drives, bubbling with intensity which subsequently ignites in rising crescendos across the melodic landscape. As with the first, there is certain imagination and invention at work, an enterprise which lures keen focus and a continuing relationship between music and listener as much as the individual prowess of the band and Anna Louise’s magnetic tones.
As potent as both songs are, each blossoming with every listen, things are taken up a notch with Rumours. Looming in from a distance, it leaps upon ears with relish and a muscular boisterousness, riffs and bassline a rapacious attack speared by the intensive and dynamic rhythms of Smith. Everything from the infectious rock ‘n’ roll of the opener to the plaintive alternative rock of its predecessor is embraced and escalated within the third track and its own tapestry of invention and drama around the vocal melodic roar.
It is immediately challenged for best track status by Emergency Exit though, the song showing why it drew high praise as a single previously with its blaze of melodic and sonic endeavour. Unafraid to draw on metal bred essences within its fire, the song sizzles and burns as it hits the sweet spot; inventive ideation lining every twist and turn.
The EP is completed by Strangers, another cauldron of sound and emotive energy driven by the predacious rhythms of Smith and Byford. It comes bound in the similarly hungry riffs and grooves of McLoughlin Spink and Fallows with Anna Louise captivatingly roaring away. It has everything about the Fortify sound which marks them put as a band to eagerly watch with a lining of originality which defuses any familiar aspects which arises in their music.
It all makes for a thoroughly enjoyable and increasingly magnetic first multi-track listen to Fortify, a band sure to be tempting bigger spotlights very soon.
The Valhalla EP is out now on iTunes.
Pete RingMaster 31/10/2017
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