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Dark Fortress: Venereal Dawn

Album Review

Germany’s meticulous black metallers hone their Lovecraft

It’s 20 years since Dark Fortress first crawled out of the Bavarian foothills, steadily establishing a firm underground reputation for delivering melodic, symphonic black metal with optimum skill and taste, as remains the case on seventh album Venereal Dawn.

Integrating catchy choral choruses into cryptic, twisting arrangements and elegant melodies hung with melancholy and unease, this is a compelling blend of accessible directness and cerebral artistry, while the lurid but metaphysical Lovecraftian concept story is rendered with multiple languages used for their rhythmic and musical appeal, an instance of how assiduously Dark Fortress approach their craft. Although many moods and sounds rise and fall throughout the rarely sagging 69 minutes, the album is topped and tailed by epics; the labyrinthine opening title track is a perfectly constructed microcosm of the album, packed with shimmering astral chords, animalistic blasts and punchy triumphant riffs, while 11-minute closer On Fever’s Wings is the immaculate Pink Floydian gothic death-doom march that Anathema should have written circa 1994. Small wonder guitarist V Santura was headhunted for Triptykon by kindred spirit Tom G Warrior. 

Via Century Media

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