Sound — 9
When I first listened to Kezia, I was quite impressed with No stars over bethlehem as well as Heretics and Killers, But nothing else from the album really stuck with me aside from a few guitar parts or a few drum parts every now and then. I didn't understand what the big deal was. In contrast, Fortress is the best CD I've heard in quite some time. It starts off with a figurative punch in the face called bloodmeat. I love it as an opening song almost as much as I enjoy No stars over bethlemhem as an opening song. It showcases all the best parts of Kezia amplified in quality as well as the new tricks they've learned. We hear that Rody has been practicing his growls, but that he's also kept his infectious melodies that contain irrepressibly catchy hooks almost to the degree of My Chemical Romance. The only difference is that you won't be embarassed to hum along with "and swords still wet with, swords still wet with the blood of their dead." This album never starts to go down hill. I feel that The Dissentience is weaker than Bloodmeat, but at least showcases some pretty badass guitar riffs, and just like the rest of the songs, isn't skippable. Bone Marrow is definitely one of my favorites from the album. the frantic minor chords are perfect. It also contains an example of a Protest the Hero breakdown, which is different than a normal breakdown in that it is subtle. Most metalcore/hardcore bands use the breakdown as the climax/culmination of they're songs. Protest's breakdowns lineup with song and give you the same satisfaction, but don't make you want to fast forward to the break down and then skip the song, as I've been noticing with other bands in the ever-tiring "core" genres. I'd go on to describe the rest of the CD, but you get the idea. It's breakneck progressive metalcore fueled by what appears to be ADHD that throws in subtle breakdowns, and in which the singer mainly uses a clear voice, a well-trained clear voice at that. the guitars are everywhere all the time and the other instruments are following them closely. Basically, if you locked The Mars Volta, August Burns Red, and Necrophagist in a room, you'd probably end up with protest the hero.
Lyrics — 10
I loved this album before I paid attention to the lyrics, and when I finally got curious enough to sit down and look at them, I was blown away. Some of the things they've written simply define perfection in my eyes. The imagery behind some of these songs is phenomenal. A good example would be in Bone Marrow: "Shah-Jan, the king of kings, wore seven rings and sixty-feathers plucked from sparrows wings, growing fat on the throne where he sat like a stone. A man who has never known no hunger, shown no mercy." Then they cap off the song with a balls out "if heaven rides against us then god himself must be damned." Sequoia throne then reminds us all the we are still-life in cold blood and we feel nothing, which is probably one of the best single lines I've ever heard. In my opinion, Sequoia Throne, Spoils, and Goddess Bound offer the best lyrical experience of the whole album. Goddess Bound providing us with "from the bottom of my heart, at the top of my lungs, in the corner of my eye, at the tip of my tongue," sung in a very paranoid manner followed by one of my favorite riffs on the CD. Rody has earned himself a permanent spot in my top 10 favorite vocalists list for his effort on Fortress. His melodies have been stuck in my head since the first day I listened to the album. Although I feel that Sometimes he crams too many words into certain parts of songs, I can hardly complain because of what he does before and after those parts. His singing has become more versatile than on Kezia. he growls on this album, and there's more of an even balance between his screams and his clear voice. Overall, I doubt I'd even bother listening to this band if it weren't for him.
Overall Impression — 10
Fortress hasn't left my car CD player since I got it about a month ago. I must have listened to it at least 20 times all the way through, and I'm still not done with it. There's a lot to absorb with Fortress. I don't think I've listened to CD this much since I first got into Tool. I rarely ever skip a song on this cd, and the only time I do is when I'm in the mood to hear a different song. I've even taken to listening to the same song 3 times in a row if I'm feeling it enough. If I had to only pick a few songs from the album to listen to, I'd probably pick Bloodmeat, Bone Marrow, and Goddess Bound. Definitely buy this album. hell, buy it twice purely on principle.