Germany's Human Fortress has had a somewhat spotty recording history. It's been three years since the last record, another five years from their experiment with modern metal in Eternal Empire. But now they're back with Thieves Of The Night, still with vocalist Gus Monsanto in the cadre, and still sticking with their heavier epic melodic power metal that made them appealing at the start of 21st century.
In that sense, this album is a repeat of Raided Lands. So if you liked that album, you can stop reading, and rush out to your local independent record store and buy this album. But a few words of description, if you're sticking around. Human Fortress offers brisk power metal defined by heavy sharp twin guitar riffage, lots of blazing solos, all powered by a rumbling and thundering rhythm. (Yeah, I know what you're thinking. I've just described most every European, if not every similar Teutonic, power metal band. But like I said, if love this stuff you'll be happy.) But the band then embellishes the roaring riffage with keyboards. Mostly they are there to add depth and gloss, not so much for solos. They take a symphonic character for the start of Thrice Blessed, but it soon diminishes. While most of the music is bold and heavy, you can still catch the melody and sometimes the groove. A better example of the latter comes with Just A Graze, where the rock groove turns the heavy metal into a catchy accessible song.
It's also an example where Monsanto's vocals aren't either coarse or raging, or both. Which is most of the time. Which is to say, at the very least, Monsanto is adaptable, because Human Fortress power metal can easily devolve into harsh and raging as well. Yet another example comes with Gift Of Prophecy where the groove is elevated, the guitar harmony is inspired, and Monsanto, again, less raging. However, the best platform for his melodic vocals comes with the symphonic anthem, Alone, which finishes the album.
These things lead to two concluding observations. One, I've basically named my favorite songs within Thieves Of The Night, but also, at the same time, I will not spin this album again anytime soon. Two, I thought I had always enjoyed Gus Monsanto's vocals. (He was terrific with Revolution Renaissance, for instance.) But now I'm not so sure. Too screamo here. But, as I said earlier, he is adaptable, and that's a mark of a professional singer. Again, if you liked Raided Lands, you'll likely want this album as well.
Thieves Of The Night is a repeat of Raided Lands. So if you liked that album, you can stop reading, and rush out to your local independent record store and buy this album.
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