Monday, February 7, 2011


Third album from Quebec's premier trance-inducing black metal nationalists. On their last two records Forteresse used blinding speed and a heavy cloak of obfuscating foggy atmospherics to create a feeling of time being slowed to molasses like viscosity, a juggernaut of blurring motion that totally overwhelmed the listener and whisked them away to some farther and age and place. The tasteful interjection of old Quebecois folk music recordings betwixt the icy blasts of black metal only heightened the sense of removal from the now and put forth an obvious ideology, a reverence for heritage that was both austere and alienating.
On the new record Forteresse take the exact opposite approach and slow things down to a plodding outer space like tempo, taking all the time they need to reach the exact same mind-wiping astral plane that speed has always achieved. This is some truly cosmic stuff, blessed with a vastness and a near infinite level open-ended expanse that seems to stretch on for a thousand eternities, constantly unfolding and opening as it hurtles towards the frigid ends of time and physicality. It's similar in sonics to other winter waste acts like the mighty Paysage d'Hiver or, from a strictly atmospheric perspective, Wold-this is the center of a blizzard, replete with all the violence and whipping wind you'd associate with the coldest Canadian nights. Guitars and keyboards blend seamlessly into one thick, mighty river of swooning melody, rolling in like storm clouds over the pastoral fields, drowning the lands in a yearning, mournful sorrow, an elegiac lament for times long since past, a call for recognition and reassimilation of older values into the void of modernity. The drums hold back for the majority of the record, content to drive the songs slowly towards their majestic conclusions. Blast beats and the endless parades of double bass that Forteresse have always used so masterfully are kept to a minimum throughout, unleashed only at key moments to maximize the brain-hammering drop out of this record. The folk recordings are replaced by smaller windows of ambient filler serving as stopgaps between the tracks proper and therein lies the record's one weakness when compared to the previous two-those old field recordings were magic, a dust from the past that totally dragged the listener into their world and helped magnify the point Forteresse were trying to make. The quality of the music hasn't diminished in the least on "Par Hauts..." but the interjections of heritage history are sorely missed.
Overall this is another epic piece of black metal symphonics, a crushing wave of bitter nostalgiah and an ode to callous winter midnights. Forteresse absolutely crucify these pieces, showcasing the best Quebecois black metal has to offer and easily standing next to contemporary masters of the time-warp like Epheles, Weakling and Fanisk. This is total obliteration rendered with temperance and thought, floating on poisoned wings to deliver portents of decay to a technologically opiated mass. There's a cost to modern existence, a steady growth of narcissism and the slow death of common sense and decency that accompanies full immersion. Forteresse and other bands have chosen to combat this by removing themselves as much as possible from society and issuing transmissions for those few ears still able to receive them and process the anti-assimilation messages they contain. For those tuned in it's a glorious, heavenly sound.

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