On the surface, Fortið’s fifth album is nothing revolutionary. The reference points are clear, with Hammerheart-era Bathory and Eld-era Enslaved soaked in a heavy Emperor influence (riffs more than keyboards), with the odd bit of something else from the broad pagan sphere of black metal, such as the Primordial- inflected Runir.
That it’s delivered with an individual progressive edge helps its distinctiveness, but that’s not the reason 9 shines so brightly. The musicality is far more important, with emotive, memorable melodies standing out from the aggression and creating a vivid and hugely entertaining saga-like atmosphere.
But what nails this as truly outstanding is the genuineness with which it is delivered, making the raw, vicious passages that bit more vehement and adding real feel to the mournful edge.
Like an epic tale of war and vengeance and passion and loss that can mix subtle emotion into the blood, fire and death, 9 won’t let you turn away till the end, when you’ll want to do it all again. Excellent./o:p