January 3, 2019

Death Fortress - Reign of the Unending

By Bryan Camphire. Reign of the Unending. It's a fitting title for a record released just before the fall of Fallen Empire Records, as the label prepares to lock up its gates. The venerable label's influence is indeed unending, and Death Fortress is a band best equipped to exhibit this fact
By Bryan Camphire.

Artwork by Raul Gonzalez.

Reign of the Unending. It's a fitting title for a record released just before the fall of Fallen Empire Records, as the label prepares to lock up its gates. The venerable label's influence is indeed unending, and Death Fortress is a band best equipped to exhibit this fact, as they have been releasing uncompromising music via Fallen Empire throughout the label's seven year history.

Death Fortress make records that sound like the band is playing live in your living room. It's a ferocious sound they've cultivated with heaping measures of muscle and teeth. In an era rampant with over-produced recordings, it's refreshing to hear a set as raw and powerful as this. To my ears, Death Fortress blends the bombast of Bleach-era Nirvana with the blasphemous bent of Belketre.

The human touch to this performance imbues the music with grit and gristle. The drumming is jaw dropping. This has been the case on all of the band's records and the clip is maintained throughout on this release. The vocals are another source of intrigue. Guttural howls are interspersed with hellish cries. These elements combined with gain-heavy guitars and low slung bass lines produce a high voltage of intensity to leave a lasting impression on the listener.

"Nearer to Purity" is a highlight. The momentum this track kicks up and the tension it creates is like experiencing a helicopter crash in a blizzard and living to tell the tale. Half of the tunes on this release have mid-tempo breakdowns. It's these moments that all at once provide reprieve and serve to strengthen the songs' potency. The music gets ratcheted up in these slow sections like a measured ascent that precedes a free fall. It's a sensation you can feel in your chest, and Death Fortress orchestrates the experience with mastery.

On Reign of the Unending, each song title on is concerned with power, and this theme is reflected in the energy of the playing. There isn't an ambient interlude to be found throughout the thirty-eight minute run time of this set. It's all blood and guts. The ferocity on display here lends the music its escalated heartbeat, which cuts a stark path through unforgiving landscapes. Death Fortress brings feverish heat to desolate atmospheres, which are richly realized on this release.

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