Album Reviews

Human Fortress – Raided Land Review

humanfortress_cover

Released By: AFM Records

Release Date: December 3, 2013

Links: https://www.facebook.com/humanfortressofficial?ref=br_tf

Genre: Power Metal

 

Line Up:

Gus Monsanto – Vocals

Todd Wolf – Guitar

Volker Trost – Guitar

Dirk Liehm – Keyboards

Andre Hort – Bass

Apostolos Zaios – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Raided Land

2. Child Of War

3. Wasted Years

4. The Chosen One

5. Shelter

6. Gladiator Of Rome (Part 2)

7. Dark Knight

8. Prelude

9. Pray For Salvation

10. Evil Curse

11. Restless Souls

12. Under Siege

13. Guard The Blind

 

Sometimes going through a rough few years can eventually lead to great things for a band. The latest proof of this comes from Germany’s Human Fortress and their fourth full length release Raided Land. Their career got off to a fine start with the epic debut Lord Of Earth And Heavens Heir, and then in 2003 they struck gold with the awe inspiring power metal masterpiece Defenders Of The Crown, which was pretty much universally accepted among metal fans. Sadly, their popular vocalist Jioti Parcharidis was replaced by Carsten Frank, among other lineup changes that occurred between albums, and while I personally enjoyed their third release Eternal Empire, most of their fans were quite disappointed, to say the least, as the band’s sound changed dramatically, and they even included some metalcore influences. After that disaster the band split up, with most of the newer members going off to form a new band, while guitarist and co-founding member Todd Wolf reunited with original drummer Apostolos Zaios, original lead guitarist Volker Trost, and recruited three new members to once again reform the band. They have now finally returned with their first new album in 5 years, and it is certainly something to behold.

While Defenders Of The Crown was a one of a kind album that’s always going to be hard for any band to top, Raided Land is exactly what the band needs right now, as it represents a return to their original style while introducing enough fresh elements to make it stand out on its own. I can confidentially say that everything most fans hated about Eternal Empire is gone, as this is once again a heavy album in a more traditional sense, with none of the metalcore elements or forced screams. Instead, it’s a melodic power metal album of the most epic kind, with heavy riffs, grand choruses and a much greater emphasis on melody than Eternal Empire had. They also added some light folk elements and symphonic elements in small doses to give the album a bit more flavor. But for the most part, this album feels like the true third Human Fortress album, as it continues with their original sound but adds some modern twists, plus the production is a lot more polished.

Compared to most power metal bands, Human Fortress has always been exceptionally good at crafting slower songs and that is something that has continued here, with songs like Child Of War and The Chosen One hitting just as hard and leaving just a strong an impression as many of the faster power metal songs other bands can come up with. Though at the same time, compared to their previous albums they have definitely picked up the tempo quite a bit on this album, as the excellent opening title track demonstrates.

Where the band really excelled on their first two albums, and what let many people down on Eternal Empire by the fact that it was absent, was of course their epic vocal melodies. A lot of credit went to Jioti Parcharidis, but even though he’s not with the band anymore (he tried to come back but couldn’t stay due to medial reasons), the quality of the vocals has once again gone up with Raided Land. New singer Gus Monsanto may already be familiar to some fans for his work with many other bands, but I have to say this is easily his best vocal performance I have ever heard. While some will still undoubtedly miss Jioti, Gus fits the band’s sound perfectly and gives an epic performance of his own, displaying the power needed to carry many of the heavier songs, a soft quality to his voice that lets him excel on the calmer parts, and he fares extremely well on the epic choruses.

My favorite song on this album is one that will instantly stand out for fans of the band’s early work just by looking at the title. Yes, indeed they decided to make Gladiator Of Rome (Part 2), and it certainly is every bit as epic and awesome as the original. It retains the speed of the original and the main riff certainly sounds quite similar, while the chorus is quite possibly the best I have heard on a power metal album this year (I know I’ve said that about a few other songs this year, but damn is this one impressive!) While that and the title track are the two fastest songs on the album, there’s plenty more epic power metal spread throughout. The only song I’d say is less than perfect is Shelter, and that’s only because the transition to the really slow chorus is a bit awkward and contrasts with the rest of the song in a way that doesn’t quite work.

Aside from that one minor mistake, this album is better than I could have hoped for. Moving on to some more highlights, Wasted Years is certainly one of the most unique and inventive songs the band has come up with in a while. It starts off slow and calm with the use of an instrument I can’t quite figure out, but it gives the song a bit of a folk feel, and then the chorus kicks in and the song becomes an epic power metal masterpiece with a nice symphonic background. These folk and symphonic elements are even stronger on the brief instrumental Prelude and the following track Pray For Salvation, and this helps to give the music more flavor and make the album even more epic. On the whole, though, it manages to bring back the melodies and epic feeling of their first two albums, while being heavier and more polished, with songs like Child Of War, The Chosen One and Restless Souls being perfect examples of all of this.

It’s been a long time coming for Human Fortress fans, but in the end Raided Land has proven to be every bit the return to form we could have hoped for, and while it doesn’t beat Defenders Of The Crown, it certainly isn’t far behind. Fans of epic power metal as well as anyone disappointed with Eternal Empire are highly recommended to check this out, as it is everything I was hoping for and more.

 

 

Written by Travis

Ratings    Travis    10/10

Tell Us How You Feel

Comments