|Review: Human Fortress - Raided Land
Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2013
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: November 17, 2013
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
How do you rate this release?
Rated 3.29/5 (65.71%) (14 Votes)
After the train wreck that was Eternal Empire, everything was up in the air for Human Fortress. Key member Torsten Wolf tried to keep the show running, and Jioti Parcharidis would even return for a short stint, only to depart for medical reasons and leave Human Fortress again hanging in the balance. Fortunately Torsten along with former members Volker Trost and Apostolos Zaios would enlist the help of new members, including vocalist Gus Monsanto of Revolution Renaissance and Adagio fame, to record their long awaited fourth album – a promised return to the sound of old.
Raided Land sees Human Fortress straddling the lines between their past and present, although admittedly lacking some of the charm that albums like Defenders Of The Crown dished out. This notion is for the most part displayed to a good effect, although in places I can't help feel awash with disappointment. No more is this evident than in "Gladiator Of Rome (Part 2)" which feels cheap and unnecessary, almost like they had to prove they were honoring their past. It isn't a bad a song by any stretch, and I can see what they were going for in re-establishing some of the riffing style as well as aiming to give something back to the fans, but I feel it comes off too blatant, and again unnecessary – as with most sequels arriving years after the original product. I hate to go off on such a tangent, but it's a real niggle.
The music across the board is for the most part is solid with the musicianship firmly in touch with the straight-up power metal Human Fortress cut their teeth on, with solid layering and development which I guess isn't too far off mid-period Kamelot in utilization. The guitars are certainly a highlight, and I think they offer a little more than would appear on the surface. With some ace nuance throughout, and inspiring melodic lead lines. I do feel the material could do with really picking up and taking off in places, as the approach for the most part is decidedly middling throughout, and at thirteen tracks it can become a little much to trudge through. Fortunately Gus Monsanto's vocals carry the songs well, and with a bit of luck he'll find some security with Human Fortress. The man boasts a quality set of pipes with good range, and an approach that lends from both the pristine and husky schools of melodic singing.
Of course Raided Land isn't without flaws, and as I mentioned earlier there is an air of disappointment housed in some of the songs, particularly "Under Siege" which despite being one of the more up-tempo numbers and featuring some cool riffs doesn't really go anywhere. "Pray For Salvation" comes off as a relatively dull ballad, bare around the bones and lacking in excitement, and obviously there's the issue I have with "Gladiator Of Rome (Part 2)". Some of the issues I have in these songs can be chalked down to personal expectation, as I do particularly enjoy the aforementioned Defenders Of The Crown; and in saying that, their first two albums admittedly did take a little longer than expected to click, so who knows how this might hold up to future listens.
For now, I'll say that the first half of the album is certainly strongest with good material like "Child Of War" and "The Chosen One", although the closer "Guard The Blind" is rather nifty, and worth sticking around for. It's good to have Human Fortress back and playing good music again, and Raided Land is definitely a sound platform to further build their career. Fans of Kamelot, Civilization One and Masterplan will likely find a solid dose of enjoyment here, and if you loved the early Human Fortress albums I'd say it's worth giving this a shot. Whilst not as majestic as I might have hoped, there's enough on offer to bring me back in for the odd listen, and sees the band in a good position for the future.
|More about Human Fortress...
|Review: Defenders of the Crown (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Eternal Empire (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Eternal Empire (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Lord of Earth and Heaven's Heir (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Raided Land (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Thieves of the Night (reviewed by MetalMike)
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