Over the last couple years I have dabbled in the realms of Black Metal but have yet to come across anything as unique as Venereal Dawn by DARK FORTRESS. This release marks the twentieth anniversary of the group and will be unleashed upon us September 2 via Century Media Records. I will start by saying I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing any of their previous albums but now my interest is piqued. After being developed over the last three years, the group chose the elite nine tracks that make up this abysmal slab of darkness.
I’m generally not a fan of really long songs, not to say that it takes away from the quality, but with the variations throughout each one it made for an easy listening experience. The title track leads off with very strong elements of the second wave of Black Metal sticking true to the genre but with better production; around the seven minute mark there’s a huge change with a groove riff under some progressive drum work. “Lloigor” incorporates many sections with acoustic guitars including the intro with a jazz infused bass line; the odd time signatures make everything stand out and the vocals are deeper and raspy here. I can’t believe I’m saying this but “Betrayal and Vengeance” opens with a sort of Nu Metal feel, not in a bad way either, the bass really stands out on this number as well as the not overly-shreddy guitar solo and the symphonic ending that is obtained with vocal harmonies.
Cygnus X-1 comes to mind upon hearing “Chrysalis” whether it be the song by RUSH or the galactic x-ray source itself. My absolute favorite jam so far which has machine gun riffing accentuated by slow single clean notes, tormented vocals and the best guitar solo found on this offering. “I Am the Jigsaw of a Mad God” gave me just what I expected from this standout middle track, a furious attack of blast beats to rip my skull open; there are even hints of a breakdown at the five minute mark and near the end the acoustic guitars are drowned under the distorted ones for an interesting undertone but no, THIS ISN’T STAIND MOTHERFUCKER!! At just over three minutes, “The Deep” give us an excellent interlude with some evil fucking down-tuned acoustics with classical style riffing. These guys know how to keep your attention.
The next two pieces were immediate favorites as well. “Odem” has to be the most straightforward and intense of them all beginning slow and dark into crushing Black Metal sorcery; the clean guitar returns to accompany a sick melodic but ripping solo, still heavy! Following eloquently “Luciform” is as deafening as its predecessor continuing the straight up blackened attack but this time we find some of the fastest and most interesting twisting riffs under a slower drum groove; this tune is all over the place and the bass once again shines as well as an appropriate moderate solo. Closing this journey out, “On Fever’s Wings” is a piano driven track that is very ominous and has superior instrumentation throughout its half timed eleven minutes; there’s a dark feeling of wandering through the cemetery to arrive at the gates of Hell that is led by female vocal lines in foreign tongue. Absolutely wicked!
It was really hard to cram over an hour’s worth of madness into this review, I was very surprised by this one. I highly recommend checking out Venereal Dawn if you’re a fan of Black Metal, Death Metal, Progressive, Satan, Magic… anything, music in general. There is much to be heard here, I will continue to listen for anything I missed!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Lloigor”, “Chrysalis”, “I Am the Jigsaw of a Mad God”, “Odem”, “Luciform”
WRITTEN BY JOR-EL