Dark Fortress: Venereal Dawn

Germany’s meticulous black metallers hone their Lovecraft

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

It’s 20 years since Dark Fortress first crawled out of the Bavarian foothills, steadily establishing

Integrating catchy choral choruses into cryptic, twisting arrangements and elegant melodies hung with melancholy and unease, this is a compelling blend of accessible directness and cerebral artistry, while the lurid but metaphysical Lovecraftian concept story is rendered with multiple languages used for their rhythmic and musical appeal, an instance of how assiduously Dark Fortress approach their craft. Although many moods and sounds rise and fall throughout the rarely sagging 69 minutes, the album is topped and tailed by epics; the labyrinthine opening title track is a perfectly constructed microcosm of the album, packed with shimmering astral chords, animalistic blasts and punchy triumphant riffs, while 11-minute closer On Fever’s Wings is the immaculate Pink Floydian gothic death-doom march that Anathema should have written circa 1994. Small wonder guitarist V Santura was headhunted for Triptykon by kindred spirit Tom G Warrior.

Via Century Media

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.