I think itÂs safe to say that nobody, myself included,
really gave two shits about Dark Fortress until Century Media gobbled them up to release SÃ©ance. Until now they were just another gangrenous sausage in the black metal link, but it looks like another case of solid backing + good production = quality black metal. I was pleased to learn that the legendary Alex Krull mastered the album despite the fact thatÂ he hasnÂt done anything remotely interesting band-wise in well over a decade. Unlike his last ten years with Atrocity, the mix job on SÃ©ance is fucking superb; everything is crystal clear, perfectly leveled, and brilliantly executed. However, this doesnÂt mean the album was a complete success. In fact, SÃ©ance is
only a decent effort on the whole, being one part fantastic and two parts
LetÂs start with the mediocre. Dark Fortress is hailed (by people who have no idea what the fuck they are talking about, mostly ignorant dregs at large metal labels/magazines) as being Âextreme black metalÂ in the vein of Immortal and other Norwegian greats, but really, I heard very little
Immortal influence aside from the occasionally fuzzy guitar whine, which more or less defines just about any black metal band. Many of the songs are actually quite doomy and a majority of them are on the slower side. The album meanders here and there with a few unique tracks emerging from the morass but it doesnÂt really get to where itÂs trying to be in the end. Black metal albums should have good closers and SÃ©ance is
anything but climactic. While the vocals are fairly interesting (plenty of
sinister laughing and cool vocal effects) and the guitar work is impressive, I
found myself dozing off through most of it. The keyboards didnÂt help me stay awake much, but thankfully Dark Fortress doesnÂt punish the listener with schmaltzy gloom and keeps the synth toward the rear where it belongs.
The real hook is the first track, probably the best intro song IÂve heard in a long time. ItÂs pretty god damn incredible now that I think about it. The guitar sound is morose, ferocious, and took me back to a time when black metal was something to be feared instead of ridiculed. Did I just say that? LetÂs just say that Euronymous wouldÂve fiddled his cock to a pulp had he heard this track when recording De Mysteriis. The whole song is absolutely evil as fuck. Then, just when youÂve been reeled in, SÃ©ance quietly
sits down and takes a long, uneventful shit. You know, the kind of relaxing
shit when youÂre not in a hurry, enjoying the comfort of your own porcelain and taking your time flipping through an old copy of Terrorizer (or Kerrang! if youÂve never been laid). Yeah, that kind. A couple of pick-me-ups jump outin the middle of the album, namely the very catchy and excellent Poltergeist, but other than that, SÃ©ance is pretty much a colossal snoozer. Two good tracks and a flawless opener just arenÂt enough to save it.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that Azathoth (vocals) appeared in a German fashion magazine to brandish his gorgeous, streaming mane.
The article states that he won the menÂs prize for long, wet hair, with a notable smoothness and glossiness. If anything is to be truly deemed Âblack metal,Â itÂs healthy and regular hair care. Forget the swords and corpsepaint, itÂs all about what grim conditioner youÂre lathering your locks with in the morning. While Azathoth does don some glorious hair, it doesnÂt hold a candle to HellhammerÂs frosted weave which, next to HorghÂs nipples, is generally considered to be the epitome of black metal homoeroticism. LetÂs be honest, the black metal world is by and large a world without women, a world where the young and pristine suburban cocks of the socially inept fanbase stiffen defiantly in the face of
the Church, yet remain as untouched by female flesh as the very priests that
serve it. So if the picture below doesnÂt get you all hot and bothered, youÂre
probably not much of a black metal fan.