Unto The Nothing
2nd December 2014 - Unholy Anarchy Records
01. Cost of Freedom
02. Fight the Son
03. Lies & Fears
04. Fortress of Gods
05. The Nothing
06. Stolen Graves
07. Dead Alone
Slow rumbling riffs and a tempo of 60bpm? This must be doom metal. The grim stylings of the album’s detailed, eye-catching artwork is another clue that this will be a low-tempo ride. Fortress are a sludgy funeral doom metal band, hailing from Maryland, USA. This is their debut album, Unto The Nothing.
The album opens with an offering of slow, brooding fuzzy riffs with whispery, growled vocals stacked on top. A few songs later, they change it u– wait, no they don’t; it keeps on going with the same thing. There are 7 songs on this album including bonus tracks, and they all sound exactly the same. Hell, a few of them even open the same way, with a screech of feedback before dropping into the morose tediousness that is the seven to nine minutes of riffs, riffs, and nothing else.
Unimaginative, unvaried, monotonous, unrelieved, mundane, stale, trite, dull, lifeless, tiresome; how many more words for “boring” can fit in this review? Because this album would take all of them and more to get across how utterly uninteresting this is. There is one moment where some background female vocals come in, that perhaps breaks up the monotony in the song “The Nothing”, but even those end up falling into the same humdrum pattern of repetition. There are a fair amount of sections that feel almost like improvisational noodling on some pseudo-riff before the drums come along and give it some sort of direction.
The production is polished – perhaps a bit too much, to the point where it’s detrimental to the album’s atmosphere; an area in need of desperate help. A grimier, swampy New Orleans-type sludge sound would perhaps have served better – something akin to that of Thou or Eyehategod. The vocals are mixed perfectly and work well with this music with the wispy growl that is going on, but on the other hand, the drums feel way too weak and have almost no impact; the snare and kick in particular are feeble with no punch to them at all.
Comparisons have been made with Pallbearer, Thergothon, and Worship, but a comparison that makes more sense sonically is perhaps Conan, whose latest album Monnos was a big, lumbering offering of stoner-infused funeral doom metal. Fortress’ Unto The Nothing, on the other hand, is a misguided snooze-fest filled with sleepy riffing, completely devoid of the kind of atmosphere that makes this kind of music good, and has an unspectacular production job on top of it all. This album is more or less desolate of any kind of interesting idea, and is likely what all funeral doom metal sounds like to people who do not like the style.