HUMAN FORTRESS – Raided Land (2013)

HUMAN FORTRESS - Raided Land (2013) full

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Germans HUMAN FORTRESS made a name of themselves with three effective Euro Heavy / Power Metal albums during the past decade, and now are returning with the new offering “Raided Land” presenting several changes not only into the line-up, but also musically.
Early guitarist Volker Trost is back, there’s a new drummer and bass player in Apostolos Zaios and Andre Hort, a fresh keyboard man in the image of Dirk Liehm and of course a new high class frontman, the Brazilian Gus Monsanto raspy-toned singer of Circle Of Silence.

Human Fortress’ music has always been highly melodic driven by fine riffery and an amazing theatrical feel, but this is an almost completely new band, and so their sonic approach.
“Raided Land” still retains some Euro power in its muscle, yet Human Fortress 2013 is much more Melodic Hard Rock in its delivery, edgy and sharp, yes, but plenty of of terrific choruses worthy of a round applauses and amazement.
Even at places you will find some modern AOR touches focused on the Swedish new wave leanings from the genre, highly melodic and anthemic.
For the most part, Human Fortress tried and succeeded here to avoid the typical clichés of the genre and all the songs on “Raided Land” don’t sound the same. As soon as opener and title track kicked in, I knew I was going to like this new musical phase from these guys.

Right from the outset you can hear the chemistry between the potent delivery of Monsanto’s vocals and the twin riff attack of Torsten Wolf and Volker Trost. New keyboardist Dirk Liehm knows exactly how to get the most out of his instrument, opting to enhance the feel of these songs, and not play over everything around him.
And yet when he’s in the driver’s seat it yields one of the album’s best tracks in “Wasted Years”, complementing Monsanto’s voice perfectly. The new rhythm section are in full lockstep as well, this is one tight band, let me tell you.

HUMAN FORTRESS - Raided Land (2013) inside cover

“Child Of War” has the feel of back-in-the-day ’80s melodic metal / hard, but it sounds more like vintage Icon than the typical American metal and it’s another instant favorite on the CD from the word ‘go’.
The riffs and thunderous drums of “Gladiator of Rome (Part 2)” should quickly show the world that these guys are a force to be reckoned with, while “Shelter” moves forward like an advancing army on a medieval battlefield, ready to spill blood.
The Euro-Metal sound is alive and well on “The Chosen One”, but again, in a good way, not in a repetitive way. Why can’t more of the genre are able to find this balance of power and catchiness? I wish I knew.

Another strong track is “Restless Souls”, with a very grandiose intro courtesy of Liehm and then the band coming in with both barrels loaded it could have easily been the album opener in my opinion. And then you have “Under Siege”, yet another kick ass number with Monsanto shifting from his lower to higher range like it’s nothing.
All “Dark Knight” is quite melodic and while there’s a lot of double-bass drumming, the song has a melodic hard skeleton including nice atmospheres.
With the midtempo “Evil Curse”, Human Fortress definitely goes modern Melodic Hard Rock specially through the strong keyboard orchestration in the background and Monsanto’s smooth, melodious interpretation which contrasts with the sharp riffs.
“Guard the Blind” is the perfect way to close the album combining melody and heaviness, a really melodic number with increscendo epic verses adorned with keys and harmonized vocalizations.

HUMAN FORTRESS - Raided Land (2013) back cover

“Raided Land” is a solid and effective release by this new Human Fortress, who have opted to give a welcomed twist to a genre many times boring and tiresome.
This is an ideal blend of power and melody into songs averaging the 4 minute mark, with a perfect mix and fantastic production from Orden Ogan’s Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann on the music side, and the extraordinaire Michael Bormann on the vocal tracks.
“Raided Land” draws elements from the classic paths of Euro metal and adds the melody, ‘easy listening’ approach of Avantasia, resulting in an enjoyable disc which will appeal a wide spectrum of fans.
Recommended.

01 – Raided Land
02 – Child of War
03 – Wasted Years
04 – The Chosen One
05 – Shelter
06 – Gladiator of Rome (Part II)
07 – Dark Knight
08 – Prelude
09 – Pray for Salvation
10 – Evil Curse
11 – Restless Souls
12 – Under Siege
13 – Guard the Blind

Gus Monsanto – vocals
Torsten Wolf – guitar
Volker Trost – guitar
Dirk Liehm – keyboards
Andre Hort – bass
Apostolos Zaios – drums

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