I love music that makes you think. Even if the message of the music is not one that I agree with, I love having something that forces me to think critically about a subject. I love it when I can feel music influencing me and helping shape what I see in the world. The best band that has done that for me is Forteresse, the Quebecois behemoth whose full length album last year won the album of the year honors from Resounding Footsteps. It’s not only the raw but polished Norwegian (but better) sound that Forteresse has set the standard for but also the deeply ingrained and well thought out message that the band espouses that makes them interesting. They are by far the best example of Quebec Nationalism that I’ve seen and they’ve managed to inform me, somewhat, on a topic that I doubt many outside of Canada know anything about. No matter what I think on the subject, and I’m not going to get into that today, I can say that they stand behind what the band represents. They don’t shy away from the glare that they can receive. Now, just a year after the masterpiece that was Thèmes pour la rébellion, they’ve come out with a demo that follows in the same cold, nationalistic footsteps. Récits patriotiques is another chip off the block when it comes to Forteresse.
When I look at albums, even from bands that I absolutely love, I have to stay objective. It’s hard sometimes not to simply gush over bands and their releases. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. I have a sense that I might fail with this review. What can I say though? I love Forteresse. From their ultra-raw but polished sound that sounds exactly the way I want raw black metal to sound, to their honest yet brutal message. Forteresse has found a formula for success. They know what works by now and they know what doesn’t. While Récits patriotiques is a little faster and less atmospheric it still fits within their style. They are advancing, fine tuning, and evolving. I remember making a comment when I was reviewing Thèmes that this is what I think the Norwegian sound could have progressed to if it hadn’t started taking itself so seriously. With the release of Récits patriotiques, I think it’s safe to officially say that the best raw sounding black metal is from Quebec. Forteresse has wrestled the black metal crown away from Norway.
I love the emotional depth the album has. It’s not the typical sterile hatred we know and expect from black metal either, it’s honest. So often these days we have misanthropy and self-hatred shoved down our throats so much that we get numb to it, it becomes silly. For the most part, honestly, I’m bored with it. I see bands advertising themselves as “hateful black metal” and I immediately lose interest. Forteresse consistently restores my faith that black metal can retain its detached darkness and maintain a healthy balance of aggressive emotions.
Calling Récits patriotiques a demo feels weird, however. I think that’s the only thing I can say against it. I’m not sure why it’s considered a demo when I’ve heard tons of albums with far worse production, sound, and editing. It’s not short, stretching over thirty-eight minutes, and it’s not awkwardly formed from unreleased material and covers. I know it’s essentially what they would have played at Messe des Morts show last November and I think it’s awesome that we get to hear it after everything that happened (you can read my thoughts on that here). This would have been a hell of a live set! But still, why a demo? Why not just call it what it is, a compilation or an EP? Whatever. It really doesn’t matter in the long run and I’m looking for things to nitpick at this point. The fact of the matter here is that Forteresse, even when they aren’t coming up with brand new material, are kicking more ass than a lot of bands out there. It’s not a competition, obviously, but Forteresse is setting the bar very high for black metal these days.
Highlights: La lame du passé, Wendigo, Spectre de la rébellion
If you enjoyed this try: Mort aux Gueux, Sorcier des Glaces, Wode
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- Spectre de la rébellion
- La lame du passé
- Le sang des héros
- La flamme et le lys
- Là où nous allons