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'Venereal Dawn'
(Century Media)

jools green

Jools Green

dark fortress

Dark Fortress formed in the Bavarian foothills in 1994 during the second wave of black Metal and now, two decades after the release of their debut album 'Tales From Eternal Dusk', they return with their seventh full length, 'Venereal Dawn', successor to 2010s superb release 'Ylem'.

At four years, this has been the biggest gap between releases but the band, as individuals, have had a lot of changes in their lives as well involvements in as other projects particularly their main writer, V Santura who is also heavily involved with label-mates Triptykon, so he didn't get chance to pen anything for this release until late 2012.

Musically they caught my attention with the release of 2006s 'Séance' and with each subsequent release, 'Venereal Dawn' being no exception, have always pushed their musical boundaries all the while endeavouring to remain firmly footed in the dark and sinister. Each release has been an evolution on the last; keeping it fresh and compelling but it does take several listens to really get the feel of the album and all its subtle complexities.

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'Venereal Dawn' is a nine track offering, it opens, as it closes, with an eleven minute monster of a track at either end, beginning with title track 'Venereal Dawn' and ending with 'On Fever's Wings', neither of which feel too long; it's just part of the dark journey this album takes you on.

Lyrically there is nothing clichéd about 'Venereal Dawn', as is the popular assumption of black Metal, instead finding inspiration around the idea of living light, vocalist Morean explains that it is about;

"The confrontation of our world with beings whose body is mere quantum quivering, but who possesses sentience, intelligence and a long history, the scenario is that the sun has acquired a new character which deforms and perverts all life on the planet. The only way people can protect themselves fleetingly is to anoint their skin with living blood. This has brought down civilization.

"The protagonist is one of those human sacrifices left to be devoured by those beings. Halfway through the album, the focus shifts from the outside world to internal experience. The story of his and mankind's demise and transfiguration becomes one of deep spiritual upheaval and catharsis, to the backdrop of a grotesque and extremely hostile world."

dark fortress

When the standard of composition and musicianship is as high as it is in this ambitious sixty- eight minute offering its hard to choose a favourite track, all are melodic, yet dark and grim, a subtle symphonic edge at times which sits so well against the hugely effective rasping, sinister vocals that had the hair in the back of my neck on edge, a vast amount of great drum work and huge degree of diversity and variety across the tracks.

The two longest, 'Venereal Dawn' and 'On Fever's Wings', both build superbly, into dark intensely powerful tracks, the slower initial pace also leaves room for well phrased drum work, also, unusually for me, I liked the hauntingly mysterious female vocals on 'On Fever's Wings'.

'Lloigor' which has some superb guitar work throughout, from the acoustics as it opens to huge melodic swathes, a perfect complement to the vocals. 'The Deep' is a dark, haunting semi acoustic wildcard that is an interesting balance between the sublime and the sinister. 'Betrayal And Vengeance', ' Luciform' with its superb latter part guitars and 'Odem 'are all dark and hugely powerful while 'Chrysalis' has such a tantalising opener that builds and falls in waves before becoming unnervingly sinister with superb closing guitars.

'I Am The Jigsaw Of A Mad God' is at times an intense frenzy of fast tempo black Metal, but does drop away to a slower more sinister pace in places.

Overall 'Venereal Dawn' is a hugely powerful, well constructed and executed album that is well worth the four year wait.

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