Human Fortress – Raided Land
Reviewed by Arno Callens
I was late to the Human Fortress-party, missing out on Defenders Of The Crown until earlier this year. At the same time, I didn’t experience the controversial Eternal Empire back when it came out. With Raided Land arriving ten and five years later respectively, one might argue I was just in time to get into this band. Because now they’re back and in good form.
It’s hard to put your finger on what exactly makes this band so special. On the one hand they can be quite cheesy, but on the other they’re relatively grounded. Their music is infused with a real sense of history, so whatever glories are being told never sound over the top. For a German band they’re fairly light on riffs, but they make up for it in sheer atmosphere and the use of sparse but effective keys.
Such was Defenders Of The Crown and so is Raided Land. It’s like that one thing that time (Eternal Empire) never happened, and no talent was lost in the passing decade. Take “Gladiator Of Rome (Pt. II)” for example. Writing a sequel to such a great song is no easy feat, and yet Human Fortress has pulled it off. It captures the spirit of the original and puts its own spin on it.
The rest of the album is filled with such battle hymns as “Child Of War”, “The Chosen One”, and “Evil Curse” up to moodier pieces like “Raided Land”, “Wasted Years”, and “Under Siege”. All are packed with sumptuous melodies and a feel of time and place. The production is a step up this time, making for a more refined and unified sound than the fairly low-key – albeit charmingly – Defenders Of The Crown. Even the slower tunes (read: not ballads) like “Shelter” and “Pray For Salvation” strike an emotive note instead of being filler material.
A big part of the emotional investment is newcomer Gus Monsanto. We’ve seen the man earn his stripes with Adagio and Lord Of Mushrooms, but I doubt he was ever so wonderfully implemented in the music. He wears the heart of the band on his tongue with a raspy yet unaggressive voice. This is a band that never goes for showboating, but crafts actual songs that worm themselves into your brain with ease.
2013 was a year of comebacks. Tad Morose, Dragonhammer, and Silent Force all returned from lengthy absences with worthy efforts, and Human Fortress can proudly stand amongst them. In the end, I’m not unhappy finally discovering this band properly so late, because the future once again looks bright.
4.0 // 5