PICK OF THE WEEK: Forteresse pay homage to history, fighting back with ‘Thèmes pour la Rébellion’

ForteresseRebellion is about as vital to heavy metal as lungs are to human beings breathing and staying alive. As a style itself, it’s a form of lashing out against the mainstream, and even within genres, there are battles against each other. Hell, black metal itself might not exist if it were not for the rise of death metal and some people’s aversion to what it was becoming. Rebellion against a form of metal!

Quebec black metal band Forteresse also has rebellion in their blood, and on their amazing new record “Thèmes pour la Rébellion,” they paint a bloody photo of the carnage suffered during the Lower Canadian Rebellion that took place in 1837-38. Known as the Patriots’ War, the conflict pitted the lower Canadian area, now known as Quebec, against British colonial forces, in which they ultimately were unsuccessful. As expected, the band’s melodic black metal spread over this eight-track record is packed with violence and glorious fight, as the songs are incredibly catchy but unmistakably brutal. There’s a sense of vengeance rushing through these, and the band does an amazing job bringing you into the heart of battle, as blood splashes all around you.

Forteresse coverAs for Forteresse, this is their first record in five years, their last being the much-celebrated (and for good reason) “Crépuscule d’Octobre.” The band, a leader in the much-praised Quebecois metal scene, have been making powerful music for the past decade or so, and ever since their stunning debut “Métal Noir Québécois,” they’ve been making an impact on the metal scene not only at home but all over the world. This group—vocalist/guitarist Athros, guitarist Matrak Tveskaeg, bassist/guitarist/lyricist Moribond, and drummer/keyboardist Fiel—pack their sound with such molten power on this record, it’s impossible not to get swept up in their assault and feel the plight of the patriots in your soul.

“Aube de 1837” is the introductory piece, as fires crackle, people howl for war, and explosions can be heard, and that barrels into “Spectre De La Rébellion,” a track that shoves you full force into the battle. Black metal melodies are lathered heavily over this cut, with fierce growls punishing, and the band hits a glorious high. It feels like the opening salvo being fired, when energy and ferocity are at their zenith. “Là Où Nous Allons” follows with strong riffs and a thick atmosphere. Guitars swirl amid the gritty vocals, while a spoken passage arrives, and the band even tries on some wordless harmonies. From there, the track surges anew and heads out in a whipping wind. “Par La Bouche De Mes Canons” has a stampeding opening, as strong melodies cascade, and the thrashing crushes you alive. The chorus is absolutely on fire, with the guitars on a total rush, with group “ahs” ringing out and the song bleeding away.

“Le Sang Des Héros” is jackhammering from the start, with wild growls arriving, the song spilling all over the place, and vicious growls pelting you. The fiery passage eventually halts and lets the smoke clear before the pace ramps up again, overwhelms, and slips away into the trickling waters you hear at the end. “Forêt D’automne” has raucous melodies and gruff growls, with the tempo increasing and pounding, feeling like a storm is swelling overhead. There is amazing energy pushing from this one, and it ends in the palm of nature, with insects chirping and owls chattering. “Vespérales” continues the push from the songs that preceded it, with animalistic shrieks bruising, and the playing crushing. The song gets atmospheric for a stretch before the track starts killing again, with strangled growls, riffs burning, and everything ending in a driving rain. Closer “Le Dernier Voyage” is an ambient-rich soundscape. Clean, watery guitars trickle, while moody, murky fog settles, and the final notes feeling like a smoke-has-cleared passage that laments the lost fight but pays homage to their battle.

Forteresse’s mastery continues on “Thèmes pour la Rébellion,” a record bleeding with history and their passion for homeland and heavy metal. They’re still a band that’s slightly under the radar for so many, and hopefully this record will wake up more listeners to their incredible sound. If you’re one who thinks black metal has reached some sort of creative limit (admittedly I do from time to time), Forteresse will destroy those worries as they ignite your heart and face with their savagery.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Forteresse-312227428819928

To buy the album, go here: http://www.sepulchralproductions.com/collections/preorders

For more on the label, go here: http://www.sepulchralproductions.com/

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