The new album Venereal Dawn follows this technical path inaugurated in 2011 with Ylem; this time they have done things on a grand style by collaborating with a large flock of guest musicians, one of whom, Mortal, had already collaborated on Ylem. I would say that Dark Fortress are currently among the most technical black metal bands, if not by far the most technical black metal band. Venereal Dawn certainly brings the progressive element of Ylem a step forward, but the listener who is well acquainted with Dark Fortress will undoubtedly recognize rhythms and melodies of the Teutonic band's sound. Venereal Dawn gives us immediately a demonstration of that with the first and eponymous song of the album that lasts eleven minutes. The acoustic guitars at the beginning of the second song “Llojgor” may be in the style of Opeth, but then the brand of Dark Fortress is once again strongly impressed. “Luciform” stands out for the incisive rhythmic guitar. The technical performance is top-notch, besides they have already proven their qualities in the past. Nevertheless, a special mention is due to singer Morean for the way in which he interprets the dark poetry of his lyrics, and because he shows that he has a great deal of charisma. Another note of credit goes to guitarists V. Santura and Asvargr, who have no parallel in the whole black metal scene: elegant arrangements, complicated evolutions, and above all phenomenal solos; the solo of “Chrysalis” speaks for all. I think that apart from the solos, an excellent demonstration of what these guys are able of is “The Deep”, unplugged song but whose acoustic riffs manage to be infernally powerful. Moreover, Dark Fortress constantly experiment with new sounds and even range over other musical cultures, managing nonetheless to achieve obscure and eerie results: check the beautiful oriental chant in Arabic by Safa Heraghi on “On Fever’s Wings”. The band shows that the meeting of two different cultures can work very well in black metal.
As for the lyrics, the album is a concept inspired by Stephen Donaldson's The Wounded Land. We do not even need to talk about the production: it is a Century Media production.
In conclusion, Dark Fortress have a sound of their own that is unmistakable, a kind of a trademark. Venereal Dawn is a very beautiful album with the Dark Fortress trademark strongly imprinted on, even if it fails to be really engaging: “I Am the Jigsaw of a Mad God” is a good example. After listening to the album, little of it remains in one’s memory. Nevertheless Venereal Dawn is an impressive album to absolutely listen to.
Release date: September 1 2014.
1. Venereal Dawn
3. Betrayal and Vengeance
5. I Am the Jigsaw of a Mad God
6. The Deep
9. On Fever's Wings
Morean: vocals, lyrics
V. Santura: guitars, backing vocals
Safa Heraghi: vocals (track 9)
Mehothra: vocals (choirs) (track 1), bass (track 2)
Mortal: vocals (choirs) (tracks 1, 3)
Monika Bullok: vocals (choirs) (tracks 1, 3)
Anja Bräutigam: vocals (choirs) (tracks 1, 3)
Martin Kubetz: piano (track 9)
Text by Herjann