Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Forteresse - Récits Patriotiques
Sepulchral Productions, 2017
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Introduction
2. Spectre de la Rébellion
3. La lame du passé
4. Le sang des héros
5. La flamme et le lys
6. Wendigo
7. Là où nous allons

I am so glad Forteresse put out this rehearsal release. I was one of the attendees at Messe des Morts in the year they were set to perform on Saturday. This release is the set list they were intending to perform that night and what an amazing night it would have been! In light of last years incredible effort, I was really looking forward to seeing them live again. For those who don't know, the 2016 Messe des Morts festival was cancelled on Saturday because Antifa didn't want Graveland to play. I am not a big advocate of policing people for thought crime and let's just say when you try to convince me the Fleur de Lys is a Nazis symbol you've kind of lost some credibility. This does not make me favor fascism, but I'm not going to get into a technical discussion with them on how saying you are against something, does not mean the inverse is true... I would rather suggest they spend time taking classes in formal logic to find out why that's not true. Anyway, it happened, I missed Aosoth, Uada and many others. It's the only fest I can afford and it's the only one I attend at all in a year.

Either way, as a result we have this CD limited to 750 copies and they did a really good job on this. Some may think the rehearsal recording may be overly raw or harsh, but it really isn't. It certainly has a very live feel, but the way they recorded this came out very well. You can hear everything and all the aspects feel relatively balanced, which really helps to make the songs truly shine. I dare say, some of the material sounds even better like this. It has a much fiercer edge to it and I would absolutely love for them to re-record "Métal Noir Québécois" in precisely this manner. It would make for a very incredible re-edition, but bands are usually unlikely to do that. I feel the same way as a musician myself. That old stuff is done, time to move on. But as a fan, I can't deny I would love it.

If you are a Forteresse fan, this really is a must have. They did a decent job of capturing the spirit of the band live, but that is natural impossible without truly experiencing it. Either way if this is all you have for "viewing" a live show, you can at least bask in this for now. One thing you can say is that they are an extremely tight live unit, very few mistakes or flubbed notes ever appear. So you get a true sense of what class of musicians Forteresse are. I just wish I could have seen "Wendigo" live... that was such an excellent stand alone song. Ah well, hopefully I'll be able to catch them some other time in the future.

Forteresse - Thèmes pour la Rébellion
Sepulchral Productions, 2016
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Aube de 1837
2. Spectre de la Rébellion
3. Là où nous allons
4. Par la bouche de mes canons
5. Le Sang des héros
6. Forêt d'automne
7. Vespérales
8. Le dernier voyage

I am pleased to finally be able to review this stunning new album from Forteresse. With a band like Forteresse I find always want more and every time a new album is released, I just want to get the next one! A couple years ago we only got a taste of what Forteresse was doing with "Wendigo" and that was, absolutely, not enough, so even though it really hasn't been that long, I was immediately excited to listen to this new album when it was announced.

"Thèmes pour la Rébellion" continues the Forteresse journey in fairly similar fashion to what they produced on "Crépuscule d'Octobre", but the new album pushes things just a little bit more. For me, this album sounds more full. I think Forteresse have finally struck that balance between playing more raw Black Metal and being over-produced. "Thèmes" is never over-produced, but it sits nicely in the range where we have a very fierce and organic tone from all the instruments and a mix that really lets that blend breath. In the liner notes you'll see that they turned to Necromorbus Studios for mix and mastering and maybe this is the big difference for them this time around.

Compositionally Forteresse may not be changing their methods, but this album allows us to really immerse ourselves in the atmosphere Forteresse has been generating for the past ten years. In some respects it is tough to say whether I think the writing is stronger than prior albums or if the immersion effect is just making me more biased towards this album. I think this album blends some of the more droning feel of "Par Hauts Bois et Vastes Plaines" (with speed instead of a slow pace) with the "Octobre" album. So, if that sounds appealing, then this is a must have. I enjoyed both releases immensely, and this was no exception. "Thèmes" feels a little more intense than the others, the passion and fire just seem a little more pronounced than prior albums. However, this could be simply due to the stronger mixing that was done for this album, giving Forteresse a much more striking power than ever before.

There's a very high probability "Thèmes" will be my top choice for 2016. It truly is the album I've been listening to the most over and over. It also features some of the most alluring and stunning album artwork in the Forteresse collection. It was absolutely worth getting the long sleeve shirt with this album art on it!

Sepulchral Productions, 2014
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Wendigo
2. Le Bois des Belles
3. La Griffe du Diable
4. Murmures Nocturnes

Side Csejthe: here
Side Chasse-Galerie: ...coming eventually...
Side Monarque: here
Side Forteresse:

Despite having a huge amount of live shows over the years since the release of "Crépuscule d'Octobre" Forteresse has been quite silent when it comes to producing new material. Albeit we've had wonderful releases from bands like Csejthe and Ephemer in the meantime, but a new Forteresse feels long overdue by 2014. However, once I saw the line-up on this split how could I not immediately pre-order! The idea that a new Forteresse song was forthcoming was just too much not to resist.

Given their discography I was certainly hoping for the best from Forteresse... but I was, honestly, taken aback by how incredible "Wendigo" sounds. As usual, I hope this is a sign that a forthcoming full-length is imminent. The ferociousness with which "Wendigo" is performed is stunning! They've somehow combined that melancholic majesty with some seriously vicious presentation and with Athros higher in the mix they sound more intense than ever. If Forteresse can keep the writing at this level for an entire album, this would seriously put them in easily album of the year territory for me and it would take something the likes of Darkspace to move them from the number one slot. This is easily one of the best things I've heard all year so far... I just wish I had more than one track!

If you haven't had the pleasure of hearing this yet, you need to click the video below and listen right now. Absolutely stunning material.

Forteresse - Crépuscule d'Octobre
Sepulchral Productions, 2011
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. Silence d'Octobre
2. Le Triomphe des Douze
3. La Lame du Passé
4. Mon Esprit Rôde Toujours
5. Spectres du Solstice
6. Enfants du Lys

I feel like this album came up rather quickly for Forteresse, who usually has a longer span of time between full-length albums. If you were disappointed in "Par hauts Bois et Vastes Plaines" approach and missed the more intense and fast paced Forteresse from earlier times then you may find "Crépuscule d'Octobre" a pleasant return to their usual form.

At times I feel like "Crépuscule d'Octobre" is a bit of a return to "Métal Noir Québécois" in the sense that it's trying to be a bit of an updated version of that original masterpiece. Here we see them add in some of those beautiful traditional violin pieces, which is why I think this album is trying to serve as an updated version. In some ways I think they've succeeded. The music sounds great and everything is as majestic, beautiful and epic, just what we are all here to listen to. In some respects I'm not sure it really captures the same level of intensity that the first album did, but on the other hand the more solid production gives this album quite an edge to me. The only real complaint I might have is that sometimes I wish Athros' vocals were just a tiny bit higher in the mix, but I can understand the decision to not want to overwhelm the instruments too much.

As usual Forteresse manage to capture the perfect essence of their region. I do wonder at this point where Forteresse will go after this album. Now that they have four very good full-lengths under their name it will be interesting to see if they continue to churn out this style of music. Maybe switching between this and their Ambient fueled release... who can say. If they don't do anything else with the style, I won't complain because their sound is unique to me. Almost no one else out there is doing this and I will be happy to bask in the glory of this particular sound over and over. Forteresse seem to always make very immersive albums for their listeners, and that is something I hope never changes.

Forteresse - Une Nuit Pour la Patrie
Spectre Sinistre, 2011
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. La Moisson de la Liberté
2. Forêt d'Automne
3. Deluge Blanc
4. Une Nuit Pour la Patrie

This is probably one of the sadder parts of my collection. I missed out on this wonderful rehearsal tape from Forteresse. However, with this being limited to 100 hand-numbered copies of which I own #19, I think it is unlikely I will ever find a copy of this any time soon. I would dearly love to have one in order to complete my Forteresse collection though.

If you were ever curious about how Forteresse sound live, this rehearsal tape recorded before a tour is a really good indicator. After hearing Forteresse live, I can attest that this is pretty close to how they typically sound. One of the great parts about this recording is that Athros' vocals stand out quite a bit and you can really hear how skilled of a vocalist he is. This is pretty close to the thirty minute set I saw the band perform when they opened for the mighty Mgła and you can only imagine how immense that show was. The material chosen for their set is mostly earlier works, which really are best for performing live. I quite enjoyed the "Par Hauts Bois et Vastes Plaines" album, but I will admit that it may not work so well in a live setting. That material is more for a quiet contemplative evening. They do manage to comprise some of my all time favorite songs from Forteresse and "Déluge Blanc" is wonderfully well executed.

"Une Nuit Pour la Patrie" really captures the raw and intense majesty of a Forteresse show and you should consider yourself very lucky if you were able to get a copy of this tape. I would cherish it very highly. Listening to this makes me want to rush up to Québéc and see Forteresse perform again!

Forteresse - Par Hauts Bois et Vastes Plaines
Sepulchral Productions, 2010
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. I
2. II
3. III
4. IV
5. V
6. VI
7. VII

After a decent wait for the next Forteresse full-length I really wasn't expecting them to release something like this. I think people will have sort of mixed views on this release, but I, honestly, really love this approach. Naturally I wouldn't complain if Forteresse would release more of the same type of material... but they're changing a little bit on this release. I'm not sure it's truly an evolution, because their focus on minimalism is far more stark on this release.

Forteresse haven't changed their beautiful expansive sound, but they've taken a sort of different approach to the writing process. "Par Hauts Bois et Vastes Plaines" takes a rather Ambient approach to the writing process and in this approach things have a lot more of a droning feel. The actual feel and presence of this album doesn't change at all from track to track and in that I can see how some listeners could find this to be a boring release compared to their prior albums. I, on the other hand, as someone who loves Ambient music find this release to be brilliantly executed. It really generates that imagery of soaring above endless plains, which is probably what influenced this albums creation. There are a couple Ambient only tracks, but these are kept relatively short and act more as an emphasis of atmosphere, unlike Paysage d'Hiver who will make a twenty minute track of blowing wind with Ambience. I think Forteresse realizes these kinds of tracks would be daunting to a listener and would ultimately take away from the overall opus. Another part that helps this album bring the listener into that entrancing state is the minimal use of vocals. When Athros shows up it is a wonderful surprise and certainly adds quite a bit to the songs, but the vocals are quite sparse allowing the listener to simply be immersed in the atmosphere.

One of the other major parts of this release is that I think Forteresse have finally hit upon a production quality that really works with their sound. Most fans I speak with seem to agree that their debut album is a little too harsh for their style, but "Par Hauts Bois et Vastes Plaines" is just the perfect blend of raw production into their sound. I really look forward to hearing more albums from them at this level of production.

So, if you like the idea of Forteresse being blended into the compositional style of Ambient then this album will be quite a treat for you. Unfortunately, if you tend to find Ambient droning and boring, you may also find this albums pacing to be tiresome. Personally, I think this is brilliantly executed and they really evoked that immersive effect I look for in music these days. Every song is well crafted and fits perfectly in a single journey, rather than just being a collection of good songs, this is basically one song broken into chapters. Or as Forteresse put it in the booklet "Métal Noir Épique Ambiant".

Brume d'Automne & Forteresse Split
Sepulchral Productions, 2008
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

Brume d'Automne:
1. Rouge Souvenir d'Antan
2. Profonde Liberté à nos Coeurs

Side Brume d'Automne: ...coming eventually...
Side Forteresse:

After a very successful full-length Forteresse write a new song to share with fellow countrymen Brume d'Automne. This split was released on 7" vinyl and came in multiple formats, but the total limitation was 500 hand-numbered copies. I own the Arctic White version of the vinyl and only 200 were made in this format, howvever the hand-numbering only accounts for the 500, so I have #443.

After two full-lengths from Forteresse they've really established a fairly well defined sound in my head, so this track didn't really present me with anything too new. They are sticking with their tried and true atmospheric, yet epic, style of writing. In some respects I think this song might be a little weaker than what we hear on the full-lengths so far. The real problem is that I feel the song gets a little overly same sounding. The main lead section is almost played too often. Even though some of the background sections change, the lead guitar driving the whole song stays the same except for changing to slightly different notes, while maintain the same kind of rhythm. There are some slight changes, but they are very subtle. Without grander changes taking place the song is almost too much of the same thing to hold together with the same strength as some of their prior material.

In some respects I feel like my synopsis is coming off a little harsh, and this is by no means a bad song. Forteresse are just running into the problem that they also need to compete with their prior releases as well as anything else being released in the market place. I just don't think this song really competes well with their own work in some ways. It is still a good track and far above the average Black Metal being produced in the overall market place. Still, a split totally worth getting in the end because Forteresse really do play a very wonderful kind of music that is worth hearing.

Forteresse - Les Hivers de Notre Époque
Sepulchral Productions, 2008
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

1. En Quête Du Souvenir
2. Ancienne Voix
3. Veille D'espoir - Aube Funeste
4. Ténèbres
5. Les Corbeaux
6. Fils de Patriotes - Pères du Renouveau
7. Déluge Blanc

After hearing "Traditionalisme" I was very eager to experience "Les Hivers de Notre Époque" just to experience and bask in the atmosphere for more than a mere ten minutes. I'm happy to report that Sepulchral have brought us yet another high quality product which perfectly complements the Forteresse aesthetic. Their albums are absolutely worth buying because it comes with a beautiful multi-page booklet with lyrics and paintings by Cornelius Krieghoff. Krieghoff painted landscapes and life scenes of Canada in the early 1800's. Despite being from The Netherlands he painted much of everyday life in Québéc, this certainly appeals to Forteresse's ideals perfectly and they add a certain rustic feel to everything.

Forteresse introduce this album with a nearly five minute track of Ambiance that starts off sort of blended with traditional elements before giving way to a sort of early Mortiis vibe. I sort of preferred the traditional violin work from "Métal Noir Québécois" rather than this... Once you hit the Mortiis aspect the ambiance is a slow meandering sound that sort of tapers off and never truly builds into what this album is really about. This is unfortunate, because it's actually rather jarring when the listener abruptly hits the wall of sound that is "Ancienne Voix." Luckily once the listener gets to this point we settle into that beautiful epic atmosphere that only Forteresse seem able to create. "Les Hivers de Notre Époque" proves to be a very immersive experience and it is not a journey one can take in fragmented shards. It's an album you sort of put on and just bask in it's glory. It's a very similar listening experience to many other Atmospheric Black Metal bands, in the sense that a lot of the tracks evoke the same feel, but it is in that immersion of nearly forty minutes that you get lost in the epic, yet unchanging journey.

The production is very similar to that found on "Traditionalisme" and for that I am quite thankful. They have really managed to get control over the raw Black Metal sound and still manage to create a very epic and beautiful feel overall. This is extremely challenging, because I feel like the two ideas are sort of opposing each other, but Forteresse is trying very hard to harness this under their control and they're really on their way to figuring out that perfect balance. The only problems I really had were in the mix. The vocals are just a little bit too loud and the rhythm guitars and drums should be a little higher in the mix to complete with that wonderful lead guitar. The lead guitar is sort of cutting through the mix heavily, but we can hear enough of the background instruments to put the whole picture together, so it does work out in the end.

This truly is a superb release. It fixes a lot of problems found on the debut and manages to keep up the very high quality of writing I've come to expect from this project. Despite having just heard this album, I do look forward to what Forteresse has in store for us next. This is simply due to the fact that I really don't have any other material that really sounds quite like this or is executed in a manner this perfectly... except maybe Csejthe.

Forteresse - Traditionalisme
Sepulchral Productions, 2007
Genre: Black Metal

1. Traditionalisme
2. Forêt d'Automne

After a very successful debut album Forteresse return with a 7" EP limited to 500 hand-numbered copies. Or at least they're supposed to be numbered. The place where I am supposed to have a number is entirely blank on my release. I don't think it's a bootleg, so I'm not sure what is going on with this.

It's only been a year, but I certainly won't complain about hearing a couple new Forteresse songs after a great debut. I definitely want to hear what they've been working on. Usually I prefer seeing a band take their time, but this might be one of the situations where I just want to hear more of this style.

One thing that immediately stands out with "Traditionalisme" is the quality in the production. They seem to have solved a lot of issues where the production is concerned. The guitars do not have that odd layer of fuzz standing between us and the beautiful compositions. The vocals actually sit very warmly in the mix enhancing the sections as needed. "Traditionalisme" actually comes across as even more melancholic and beautiful, and this might be due to the production change. "Métal Noir Québécois" felt a little more harsh, but the compositions don't actually feel very different when you compare the two releases though. I think Forteresse have really sorted out production value problems in such a way to really change and enhance their sound for the better. At this point I am really looking forward to their next release if this is the direction things are heading. So, if you really loved the style from the debut, but really want to hear it recast in different production this EP is definitely worth checking out.

Forteresse - Métal Noir Québécois
Sepulchral Productions, 2006
Genre: Black Metal

1. La Moisson de la Libertée
2. Une Nuit Pour la Patrie
3. La FLamme et le Lys
4. De Sang et de Volanté
5. Métal Noir Québécois
6. Honneur et Tradition

Forteresse is a band I heard about from my friend Sam on our way to Messe des Morts II, in which she said they put on a spectacular show.  Later I would get to see them live at Messe des Morts II.V with the mighty Mgla and they certainly didn't disappoint!  I've since gotten pretty much the entire Forteresse discography because their music is simply wonderful.

"Métal Noir Québécois" opens with a sort traditional violin piece for about twenty-five seconds before launching into their original work.  I suppose this makes sense because the cover of their album features a picture of the violinist Joseph Allard.  Compositionally Forteresse does exactly what I would want them to do, so this is a very satisfying listen for me.    Fortresse basically do what Abîme failed to do.  Fortresse builds their compositions around very hypnotic rhythms that can drone on for quite some time.  By itself this could wind up being a very boring listen, but they layer some incredibly majestic lead sections over this.  You wouldn't believe how much this changes everything.  By simply adding a beautiful lead section on top of the rhythms it transforms the music from lackluster to utterly majestic and awe inspiring.  There is certainly a hypnotic quality behind their music and generates quite a meditative atmosphere.  It really is just absolutely beautiful to behold and listen to.

The only complaint I really have on the composition side is that when they intro the traditional tracks and the metal kicks in this can be a little jarring to the listener.  They do not bother to try to blend the elements together.  It would be okay if it was only the first song on the album, but they intro a traditional piece at the beginning of most songs.  However, in the tracks where they do have some violin playing in with the Black Metal is truly spectacular.  It just makes me wish they had taken the time to blend their intros with their Black Metal a little more.

On the production front this album is fairly well done.  I can hear all the instruments just fine.  The vocals are slightly too far in the background.  Perhaps this was done on purpose?  I am not sure, but having them in the front a little bit more would have made the mix a little more balanced in my opinion.  The only other thing I didn't like much was that the distortion on the rhythm guitars is a little fuzzy.  I think having a more clean distortion setting would have made this album stand out a lot more.  I realize those terms are a little ambiguous, but it is a little hard to describe what I mean in terms of distortion quality.

In the end Forteresse is well worth anyone's time to check out.  Especially if you really love atmospheric types of Black Metal.  I think this is the type of music a listener can easily get lost in and I personally loved what they did on this recording.

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