Review Summary: One of the best hidden gems in extreme metal.
Death Fortress is a black and death metal band and by that I do not mean black/death as the elements pertaining to the 2 styles are not really merged but they actually work as very distinct entities, most prominently visible in the vocal work that will be detailed upon later on within the review.
There is no other band I can compare Death Fortress to, despite hearing some opinions making all sort of non-consolidated comparisons, I find it super unique and I will try to explain this in more detail without losing sight that the purpose of this write-up is to review a particular album and not to create a band digest.
New Jersey based output started together in 2012 and has released so far 4 albums. The band consists of 3 members whom are very well seasoned in the underground metal and are and were active in many more other bands out of which Siege Column and Altar of Gore are the ones most to my liking.
To start to move from the overall band aspects to Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable I must say that all discography so far benefits of amazing production, the sound is so satisfying , I really could not ask for more.
But what makes this debut album the shining star in the band's discography is the amazing songwriting , the riffs are very sticky and creative, the rare tempo changes are extremely inspired whilst the way the guitar layers are interwined is nothing short of superb. They create a dissonant feeling that is a bit in the vein of DsO (oops, I fell into the comparison trap) but it is still very different in the construction method and effect.
And then there are the vocals, the make it or break it point of the discussion: I absolutely love the crushing growls and the shrieky screams, each on its own, but having them together is putting the album at top tier level for me whilst I understand that this is really not for everybody.
Drumming is also very good, extremely well timed by making the right choices on when to support the riffs and when to shine through.
TheĀ* array of emotions is as expansive as it can get, I feel sadness, brutal joyfulness (yes, it exists, check this out!), pride, viciousness, ferocity and melancholy.
The sound is so full and round, it's mid paced and also uptempo most of the time if this makes any sense - probably comes from the multiple layers. Honestly this has the unique quality of being excelent at the same time whilst hearing in the background focusing on a tennis game but also whilst being halfattentive during driving let's say and last but not least with full attention, alone in a dark and quiet place, in order to fully embrace the sound and the tiny things that are missed out open casual listens. I do not know how this is done: it's punchy and also soothing, crushing but not ear piercing, flows like a smooth river but also like a monstrous war machine.
This clicked with me from the first listen , not sure if this is the general case, I do not see this being discussed anywhere so I guess not but I stand by it with humility, pride and astute stubbornness.