|Formed anno 1994 Dark Fortress have established themselves in the top ranks of the genre with captivating, intense live shows and fascinating pitch black full-length masterpieces that meet the standard created mostly in northern Europe's prolific scenes with ease.
Their first musical sign of life was the 1996 released demo "Rebirth Of The Dark Age" which as a matter of fact was the hour of birth of a soon to become truly dark and mesmerizing band. In 1997 the original line-up consisting of band founder Asvargr (guitar), vocalist Azathoth, Njord on bass, drummer Charon established the band's first live line-up with the addition of a second guitarist named Crom and keyboardist Thamuz. Debuting live in February 1997 the young horde soon shared the stage with such underground figureheads as Lunar Aurora, Desaster and Nagelfar. Dark Fortress' first label release was the Split MCD with Barad Dür entitled "Towards Immortaliy" which featured two new tracks by the band and was released on Fog Of The Apocalypse Records. A third track was recorded during the same session and was used for the compilation CD "From The Mystic Forest - Part II". The band kept busy composing material for the first full-length, but a studio date already scheduled for 1998 did not come into being and the recording did not take place until August 2000 when Dark Fortress entered Klangschmiede Studio E and with Markus Stock (of Empyrium fame) behind the knobs completed one of the strongest melodic yet viciously aggressive black/death debuts ever to emerge from Germany: "Tales From Eternal Dusk". Taking inspiration from such renowned acts like Dissection, Unanimated and Satyricon the album received nothing but praise and offered a magnificent mixture of hauntingly beautiful guitar melodies, morbid and tormented snarling and diversified song structures…a destined to be classic release!
Line-up changes (Charon and Crom left due to conflicting musical interests) delayed further live and studio activities, but with signing to US label Red Stream for two albums and the addition of new drummer Seraph and guitarist Santura, Dark Fortress was back with a vengeance! Recorded at famous Grieghallen Studio in Norway (Mayhem, Emperor, Immortal…) "Profane Genocidal Creations" was an ambitious yet delayed album due to problems during the mixing/mastering process. It was not released until February 2003 and showcased Dark Fortress further developing the epic and sinister elements in their sound honouring the classic traditions of black metal as well as daring to keep continuously progressing as composers and musicians. With a stable line-up consisting of Azathoth (vocals), Asvargr (guitar), Santura (guitar), Draug (bass), Paymon (keyboards) and Seraph (drums) more live shows and even festival appearances ensued seeing Dark Fortress share stage with such outstanding extreme metal acts like Behemoth, Impaled Nazarene, Pungent Stench, God Dethroned as well as countless underground acts and thus establishing the sextet further as a band that dares to evolve without betraying its roots.
The hitherto musical peak of their career then hit the metal scene with the 2004 released, superbly produced "Stab Wounds" (Black Attakk). Crowned by a gloomy artwork by well-known artist Travis Smith (Opeth, Nevermore, Anathema, Death) "Stab Wounds" was overwhelmingly positive received not only by the band's underground following but also mainstream metal press, e.g. German Rock Hard praised it as "too good, too original and heavy to be ignored. Simply the best German black metal has to offer!". Their newest strike was a skilfully composed pitch black musical journey through man's darkest valleys of emotion. Suicidal despair and foreboding melancholy bewitched the listener as well as furious aggression and contempt in this piece of black art. A fantastic interpretation of Katatonia's "Endtime" - a gem not so easy for such a band to cover - was included on the limited CD Digipak, while an excellent cover version of Emperor's "I Am The Black Wizards" graced the double-LP version (released by Imperium Records, 2005).
Now "Séance" is the next step to establish Dark Fortress not only as one of Germanys most hopeful black metal acts, but as one that does not have to fear the international competition. Once more ennobled by a marvellous artwork of Travis Smith (Nevermore, Katatonia, Opeth etc.) the album evolves around the conceptual idea of the direct contrast between the here and now and the hereafter, the fragility of human existence with its most striking weaknesses - ignorance, arrogance and false illusions - and the crass finality of death. The central motif lyrically of "Séance" dares to leave the stereotypical, cliché-ridden black metal paths and instead deals with the idea of paranormal beings, their individual experiences which are focused on during the course of the album. The musical side supports this conceptual idea with majestic, gloomy guitar melodies, twisted and morbid passages, ultimately grim vocals and an amount of inventiveness hard to find in the genre nowadays. "Séance" is a diversified, frighteningly extreme and highly creative effort, that should not be ignored.