If you are looking for a band name that already exists countless times, you will end up with “Fortress“ quite quickly. But listeners should not be put off by the lack of originality on this level: The quartet from Whittier, California, which came to life in 2016, has a lot to offer friends of classic metal sounds.
However, a restriction is appropriate at this point: Although Don’t Spare The Wicked is officially a full-length, the fun is already over after just under 29 minutes. The US-Americans therefore come to the point – a quality that I generally appreciate.
Fortress convince me, in the short time, on three levels: 1) Singer Chris Nunez is a classic eighties siren, which reminds me some times of no less than Bruce Dickinson – but he sounds in no way like a clone. His voice has character and is one of the best I’ve heard in NWOTHM in recent years. 2) Guitarist Fili Bibiano, once a member of Witherfall, is a master of his craft. Riffs and solos are consistently captivating – and always far from 08/15 fare. 3) The songwriting is qualitatively far above average: The often slightly dark, melancholic songs have mostly strong hooks, which makes Don’t Spare The Wicked a collection of potential underground hits, alone the title track probably remains forever in the ear. The use of the keyboards is well dosed – and gives the album additional depth (as for example in “Anguish“). By the way, I would like to point out “Children of the Night“ as a play tip, which – not only vocally – sprays some early Queensrÿche vibes.
Conclusion: Fortress put a first fat exclamation mark with their debut. Whoever can warm up to traditional metal styles should definitely take a look at the record. The really extremely tasteful artwork almost screams for a vinyl purchase!