Review by Brexaul on April 28, 2021.
I remember Fortress Under Siege (great name by the way!), back in the days that I was scouting the Greek scene and they were one of the bands that had an amazing vocalist as opposed to 80% of the bands of their time. I lost track of them, so I was very surprised when their new album popped in front of me, with the fantastic cover (work of art right there) catching my eye. After a little online research (and sampling, no shame in that) I proceeded to buy the album and it has had a steady rotation to my weekly heavy metal adventures ever since.
For the unfamiliar, they play a mixture of power and progressive metal although, to my disappointment, their prog side seems a bit too tamed on this album. There are 12 songs with 2 instrumentals so the balance is quite nice and what you’ll hear is a well-crafted, inspired and perfectly executed power metal with zero amount of cheese. The songs are further boosted by the overall production, which is amazing and makes the band sound professional and confident at any given song.
The guitar work is excellent, lots of dual guitars and melodies, very technical but emotional solos and abundant riffs throughout the whole record. I particularly like the guitar tone as it gave the compositions that little extra something that many overdigitalised power metal bands miss these days. The bassist is a monster, with a phenomenal performance and along with the punchy drums leading, they form an excellent rhythm section for the full band to move forward. I was very happy to notice that Fortress Under Siege maintains their tradition of fantastic vocalists as Tasos Lazaris gives a very noteworthy performance, many times reminiscent of a younger Bruce Dickinson or a mid-era Geoff Tate. Emotional, theatrical and to the point, he surely elevates the compositions to a higher level. From my online research I understand Tasos came late to the party as a vocalist since the band had recorded a full album version with Mike Livas on vocals, but honestly I doubt anyone could top his performance here, as he owns every word he sings, even the less flattering vocal lines.
Overall, the songs are good, with some near-misses on the song structures but for the most part, the album is very enjoyable and well put together. I do miss some variety and ultimately feel the all-out-power approach doesn't compliment them as much. What I really like about this band is that while they have the technical capacity to be flashy and complex, they implement little things here and there without ever giving the impression of showing off. Again, a double edged sword since I really miss their more progressive side, as their power metal façade is dominant and makes it harder for the band to stand out.
A very welcome return from the Greeks that is well worth investing into, if you like your power metal modern, but devoid of the cheesy stuff that dominates the scene nowadays. Let's hope they get some of their prog side back for the next one, they surely could benefit from their mastery.
Worthy tracks to check: 'The Road Unknown', 'Love Enforcer'
Rating: 8.3 out of 10129