Forteresse are an incredible band hailing from Quebec and specializing in ancestral/nationalistic atmospheric black metal with a hallucinogenic and heroic vibe that marries in the best elements of early Satyricon (Dark Medieval Times), Summoning, pagan Blut Aus Nord releases, and an incredibly seismic intensity of guitar distortion that thunders down upon the listener with the force of an Alpine avalanche… in other words, “Colder than a witches tit” and as catastrophically heavy as that of a full sized meteor crash. There’s a definitive old European atmosphere to Forteresse’s sound that has a very wintery, solemn, and beautiful presence yet at the same time it’s also harsh, uptempo (?), and ghostly. Sometimes the rhythms, especially with the percussion having that tinny, almost drum machine-like tint to them (they are real drums though), alongside the tremolo picked melodic phrases bring in a slight epic barbaric context.
Take “Le Triomphe des Douze” for example. Here they have a simple but powerful and distinct melodic phrase that is consistent throughout the song, very much like what’s heard from Blut Aus Nord on Ultima Thule or Fathers of the Icy Ages as Forteresse have the vocals behind the mix, but they differ quite a bit from this comparison through their featuring of the percussion toward the front a bit more giving a crisp stomping pulse to the song. The vocals still tend to be a vaporous ghostly rasp thus adding an additional sense of bloodshed and rebellious spirit of forefathers calling forth that is one of the foundations of this style of black metal.
When listening to their early works they already had the haunting atmospheric fog that is one of their strongest traits, but back then it was a lot more sonicated and muffled than heard here on Crepuscule d’Octobre, where the sound is a lot more clear and intense. I’d even say that the Summoning similarities really come into play more so on this release than on its predecessors, but that comparison relates mostly to the melodic tones used and the majestic heavy atmosphere they create through simple melodies and very well executed percussive driven rhythms.
Ironically a few years back I was watching an interview with the members of Darkthrone and Fenriz made some comments about how traditionally drums were not considered being an important or recognized element in black metal, and that it was the riffs that made the most impressions on listeners. Anyway, my point is that he’s right to some extent, especially for what most people mention in reviews and from one fan to another when discussing aspects to a black metal band/album…Hell, I’m guilty of it too through no fault my own either, BUT many bands and listeners do actually think and hear beyond just the guitar/s, and on Crepuscule d’Octobre the percussion is very seductive and plays a greater role in the songs than is usually heard.
In conclusion, Forteresse not only redefines their sonic ability with this release but they also create a memorable and unique force field of surreal sensations and raw cinematic soundscapes that directly draw upon their heritage and culture as much as the European black metal aesthetic in order to convey something monolithic and simple, yet still very sensational and all without pretense. I have been a fan of this band for a few albums now, but as much as I love the muddy distorted gas vibe of the other albums, this one is THE one where the band really cuts me deep and wide.