This is a great example of a band that I had never heard of a few weeks ago then all of the sudden they explode all over all my social media feeds. Clearly this was telling me that Forteresse is a band I need to look into. There’s a lot of history behind the band that I was completely, to my great shame, unaware of. Métal Noir Québécois. It’s a completely unique scene, somewhat isolated in the cold lands of Canada, and apparently Forteresse is responsible for naming it. Is it any surprise that “Thèmes pour la rébellion” is such a strong album? Seriously, this is an album that more than lives up to the hype about it. When was the last time that happened?
They play a very fast paced ambient black metal, a massive wall of sound interspaced with beautiful melodies that carry the music through the album. There is a little of everything in the album, if you are looking for straightforward, raw black metal it’s there, if you are looking for melodic black metal it’s there. Speed? It’s there too, and not in the traditional “play as fast as you can even if the melody and rhythm suffer” black metal. The speed is blazing, no doubt but the lads of Forteresse use that speed to create melody, similar to the way speed and power metal works.
The production is grainy with a slight drone but just enough to make the music dirt. The sound is still wonderfully clear, punctuated with crisp sounding drums on a rock steady foundation of blast beats that have some of the most consistent speed and power I have heard. Ever.
The vocals are shockingly good. I don’t know why but I wasn’t expecting something so crisp, raspy, and strong. I am always nervous about new bands based on vocals alone because bad vocals can rip a band to pieces. Forteresse has perfect vocals laying on top of the music. The singer isn’t just rasping into a mic either, each line is carefully crafted so that it matches the music, it’s not so much a counterpoint (the twin guitars are more than enough) as it is an added layer of melody and sound.
The ambient noise, the winds, the spoken word, all ground the music, give it a place in reality. These sounds serve as the linking elements between the atmosphere created by the band and the message and purpose of the band.
Forteresse may be new to me but I think they are incredible and Thèmes pour la rébellion is a potential Album of the Year candidate. They have such a unique sound and approach to music that it is hard not to fall in love with. You can head bang to it but you can also just sit and listen, there’s groove, speed, thrash all rolled into a black metal shell and twisted into a form that can only be called Métal Noir Québécois. There is a reason everyone has been talking about this album. Now listen for yourselves!