Human Fortress – “Thieves Of The Night” (AFM Records)
Formed in the late 90s as yet another German power metal band, successfully releasing two albums, Human Fortress went through a major change – for the worse – in 2008 with their ill fated “Eternal Empire” album, which tried to introduce a metalcore element, resulting in both fans and band members leaving! It would be five years before the original band regrouped back into the more familiar power metal territory that had made their name in 2013’s “Raided Land”, complete with a new singer in renowned Brazilian Gus Monsanto. Well, the good news is that this fifth album continues very much in that style although I’d say the power metal speed has now been replaced by a slower epic tempo with occasional gallops here n there. Of course, the medieval melodies are very much still evident and probably constitute the core of the band’s sound, utilizing Monsanto’s vocal capability to the max, factoring in backing symphonic aspects and harmony vocals. That said, there’s a very deep rhythm, especially in Andre Hort’s crunching bass, at times even overshadowing Apostolos Zaios’s mid tempo double bass drumming in the mix! The twin guitars of founders Torsten Wolf and Volker Trost also have a heavy edge, but I get the impression that rather than trying new things, Human Fortress have taken an understandably conservative view in sticking very much to their roots, and moreover composing catchy material that fits in Monsanto, which the 12 tracks certainly do commendably especially on the rocking ‘Thrice Blessed’ or the chugging symphonic groove of ‘Just A Graze’ and the soaring power metal majesty of the title track in ‘Thieves Of The Night’. All in all a continuing return to fine form with their well delivered catchy material and a strong desire to showcase it all live to bring back those crowds again!