martedì 20 settembre 2016

Forteresse - "Thèmes pour la Rébellion" (Sepulchral Productions, 2016)

Band: Forteresse
Album's title: Thèmes pour la Rébellion
Genre: Black metal
Year: 2016
Time: 43 min circa
Rating: 78/100

Now we are entering the territories of the "Metal Noir Quebecois" (MNQ), a kind of secessionist black metal movement from Québec, a land not considered by its band like a mere province of Canada but like an autonomous territory with traditions, language (in fact, the French is the official language of Québec) and culture completely different than the rest of the Nation. All this is due to the particular history of this Province, that was colonized by France during 16-17th centuries before it surrendered the Québec to the Great Britain after its defeat in the Seven Years' War.

The main and maybe more representative band of MNQ is Forteresse, a quartet founded in 2006 debuting during that same year with an album aptly titled "Metal Noir Quebecois", released under the banner of the Sepulchral Productions (owned by Myrkhaal of Frozen Shadows), the label of the movement. After that, Forteresse published 4 other patriotic albums, included the fresh "Thèmes pour la Rébellion", recorded at the Sweden's Necromorbus Studio with Tore Stjerna and released in CD format symbolically in 24th June 2016, that is the "St. Jean - Baptiste", the national Holiday of Québec.

With this album embellished by a fantastic cover artwork taken from the painting "The Fire in the Saint Jean Quarter, Seen Looking Westward" by the Quebecer painter Joseph Légaré (1795-1855), Forteresse offers 9 tracks, included the intro "Aube de 1837" and the ambient outro "Le Dernier Voyage". The music of these guys in this album is a tempestous and blasting black metal full of melancholic but majestic melodies reinforced by a very cold production while the general aura is tragic and epic at the same time.

Anyway, the variations from track to track are few also because the riffs are played in a quasi-perennial tremolo-picking. Fortunately, Forteresse are able not only to create a very effective atmosphere but also to achieve gradually peaks of intensity through few elements, thanks for example to the scraping screams of Athros. Alas, the intensity of the music is also due to the insane and very violent blast-beats of the drummer Fiel, alternating them here and there with more reflexive and evocative passagges (like in the slowdowns of "Là Où Nous Allons" or, especially, in the heroic "Vespérales").

Forteresse have two characteristics that distinguish them from the multitude of black metal bands: the omnipresent lead guitar, that play never solos but completes the riffs of the other axe with a great sense of melody and giving to the music a very ambient atmosphere; and some evocative but occasional clean vocals (here and there there are also spoken vocals), useful to give more tragic feeling to the slower moments, like in the aforementioned songs.

Speaking of the lyrical content of this album, "Thèmes pour la Rébellion" is focused on the tragic Quebecer Patriots' War against the British domination in 1837-1838 when Québec was still named as Lower Canada. The war ended with the crushing victory of the British forces bringing to the resulting unification between the Lower Canada and the Upper Canada (now Ontario), that were some of the first seeds for the Canadian Confederation in 1867. But now I stopped before this review becomes a history lesson!

In short, "Thèmes pour la Rébellion" is a very good album where Forteresse mixed an ambient atmosphere, classic of their style, with a violent but melodic assault very unusual for this Nationalist band, also if lacking a bit in variety but it isn't so important. For me, standout tracks are especially "Là Où Nous Allons" and "Vespérales" plus "Spectre de la Rébellion" and "Par la Bouche de Mes Canons". The rebellious battle for an Independent Québec continues...


1 - Aube de 1837
2 - Spectre de la Rébellion
3 - Là Où Nous Allons
4 - Par la Bouche de Mes Canons
5 - Le Sang des Heros
6 - Foret d'Automne
7 - Vespérales
8 - Le Dernier Voyage


Athros - vocals
Moribond - guitars
Matrak - bass
Fiel - drums

Sepulchral Productions:

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