FORTRESS reissues self-titled debut EP
Updated: Sep 15, 2019
Without doubt, in the last couple of years we have been witnessing the return to glory of metal. The last twenty-four months, or so, were an absolute orgy of new releases, representing well, all of the familiar styles and further crossing over into new trends and dimensions. Some may argue that metal has been making a comeback since the early days of this millennium. While that statement has a lot of truth to it, I argue that at no time, perhaps in the history of the genre, such an absolutely tremendous amount of quality recordings, from new and also from seasoned acts, were released at the rate they are since circa 2016-17. With loads of recent releases focusing on the darker side of the extreme, or equally to the fuzzier side of the spectrum, heavy metal, in its purest form, have been slightly overshadowed. My intention was to create a new Denim & Leather column, dedicated to heavy metal, and it's near associations. Proto-metal, traditional, NWOBHM, epic and even power metal tainted acts and releases will be featured, via recommendations and reviews, on the New Wave Of Underground Heavy Metal. To the power and the glory!
What better way to kick in perspective this new column than the self-titled debut EP from the Whittier (city in the Los Angeles metropolitan area) hailing act, FORTRESS! Independently released in the summer of 2018, the four song EP was reissued on vinyl and CD earlier this year, via High Roller Records.
With its roots heavily planted into the early to mid 1980s heavy metal, the band's debut EP, spanning all of its four tracks, represents equally well the nostalgia of the past glory days of heavy metal, and also the genre's current state of affairs. It was never uncommon for the real fans of metal, regardless of style and intensity, to reach back into the past, either to re-discover a familiar act or opus, or to discover something entirely new, yet overlooked at the time of release. FORTRESS, which formed in 2016, bridges the past with the present rather flawlessly. The familiar traits are all there, yet the material is entirely original and very well written, with a studio execution and a production value to match. The four bandmates brought their "A" game into the studio, creating nothing short of awesomeness. The quartet's guitarist, Fili Bibiano recorded "A Prelude to Sorrow" (2018) during his one year stint with the dark and melodic, Witherfall. On the band's debut EP, Bibiano lays an impressive array of riffs and solos, all finely executed in the vein of the genre's shredding legends, adding a subtle neoclassical nuance to his playing. The vocal duties were handled by Chris Scott Nunez, with a tone and range identifiable with Bruce Dickinson and perhaps Coburn Pharr (Annihilator's "Never, Neverland" era lead singer) and a vocal delivery style similar to Y&T's Dave Meniketti. Ulises Serrano's properly accented bass lines compliment well Robert Duran's drumming, effectively rounding up the band's rhythm section. It is worth mentioning that aside from Bibiano (also in Necrotic Mess), the rest of the band had no other musical associations outside FORTRESS, as far as I know. Highly recommended!
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© 2019 by Emil Chiru