Human Fortess - Eternal empire 1.5/5

Reviewed: 8-22-08


1. Contrast
2. Borders of insanity
3. The wizard
4. The raven
5. When love and hate collide
6. Under the spell
7. Lions den
8. Circle of flames
9. Falling leaves
10. Guide from heaven (bonus track)
11. Wrath (bonus track)

Wow!! This CD has really surprised me, but not in a good way...

Human Fortress made quite a name for themselves early in the decade with their excellent debut 'Lord of earth and heavens heir' and their superb 2nd CD 'Defenders of the crown', both extremely high quality epic/melodic metal CDs featuring the unique and phenominal voice of Jioti Parcharidis, who's also know for his role in Euroforce as well as some other bands. Personally, I've always liked 'Lord of earth and heavens heir' a lot, but consider 'Defenders of the crown' to be a true masterpiece.

Sadly, we will probably never get a CD from Human Fortress that comes close to matching the same quality of their first 2 CDs, and maybe even the same style, as the band gives us a shocking 3rd CD 'Eternal empire' that's completely different than their previous material. For starters, Jioti has been replaced by ex-Galloglass vocalist Carsten Frank, who has a great voice, but unfortunately he's surrounded by numerous backing vocals (from just about everyone else in the band), of horrendous extremes. Believe it or not, I'm talking about shouting and screaming - metalcore and nu-metal style. Sure, there are some nice female vocals on occasion and Carsten sounds good as he sings clearly most of the time, but those who have their tastes well-embedded in power metal are going to be very disappointed. This includes me, of course.

That's not all though, as the band has gone in a much more commercial direction musically, complete with many modern and metalcore influences to go along with the mess of vocals. The CD contains very little speed and not much of it can be considered power metal. Instead, we get riffs that are too chunky, too groovy, and overall are just not my thing, or anyone else's that was expecting another excellent epic/melodic power metal CD. But it's not just that they've changed style both musically and vocally, the majority of the CD, simply put, feels like a mess. This is very unfortunate, as there are some flashes of greatness, like parts of track 3 "The wizard", most of track 5 "When love and hate collide", the kind-of cool slower moments of track 6 "Under the spell", some of the guitar work in track 8 "Circle of flames" and the fairly catchy track 9 "Falling leaves", but although these flashes make the CD listenable, almost every song is either ruined by the onslaught of horrendous vocals or by unsettling changes in direction.

What's even more interesting is that the band teases us with 2 bonus tracks ("Guide from heaven" and "Wrath"), which are nicely done, in the style of their first 2 CDs, and keep the CD from getting an even lower rating. I'm not sure exactly what the point is of these songs, but perhaps they're just proving that they're still capable of providing music in their previous style. Regardless, I truly hope that they go back to what was so special about those days, though without Jioti on vocals and with commercial aspirations, that might not be possible.




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