Over the course of their three previous releases, Quebec (Canada) based outfit Forteresse has gone from being a fairly straight forward/run of the mill black metal act to become an ambient black metal act. The transition from one style to the other has been a gradual and natural evolution, which meant that with every new release from the band, you were never really entirely certain about what to expect in the musical sense. Now returning with their fourth full length effort ‘Crépuscule D’Octobre’ (Which translates to ‘October Dusk’), it would appear that the trio (Who comprise of vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Athros, guitarist/bassist/lyricist Moribond and drummer/keyboardist Fiel) have decided to take a detour from the sound and style that was offered up on their last release (2010’s ‘Par Hauts Bois Et Vastes Plaines’, or ‘By High Woods And Vast Plains’), and have instead decided to take a trip back into the past.
The opening track ‘Silence D’Octobre’ is a stark and atmospheric keyboard based/spoken word introduction to the album, and somewhat of a bridge between the band’s more recent past and their present. Once the introduction is over, it isn’t long before the band really gets things underway with the primitive and harsh sounding ‘Le Triomphe Des Douze’. Sounding very much like a throwback to the sound that was presented on the band’s debut, ‘Le Triomphe Des Douze’ marks a conscious effort from the trio to return to the simplistic and raw black metal sound, without the addition of ambient passages or changes in song writing structures to allow for tempo changes. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the band’s step back, with the band maintaining the same tempo throughout, and bludgeoning the same chords as well for over seven minutes, ‘Le Triomphe Des Douze’ is a little on the long side, and quite frankly, a little tiresome by the end.
The follow-up track ‘La Lame Du Passé’ (Which is introduced by way of a brief folk based interlude) is very much like the former track in that the band focus on simple black metal song structures and riffs, and hammer those few ideas over the course of the song’s duration. Under normal circumstances, there’s nothing wrong with that, but given that the song runs for close to ten minutes, ‘La Lame Du Passé’ well and truly overstays its welcome.
Unfortunately, the remaining three tracks on the album don’t fare a whole lot better, with only the slower pace and subtle atmospherics within ‘Mon Esprit Rôde Toujours’ standing out as anything remotely noteworthy.
Forteresse isn’t a terrible act, and ‘Crépuscule D’Octobre’ is far from a complete failure. The problem is that with just six tracks, and a total running time of forty-five minutes, the album is a little too long time wise, and a little too short on ideas. Still, if you like raw black metal with an emphasis on minimalism, and don’t mind those same ideas stretched out to exceptional lengths, you’ll get a hell of a lot more out of ‘Crépuscule D’Octobre’ than I did.
For more information on Forteresse, check out - http://www.myspace.com/forteresse
© Justin Donnelly