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Fortis Amor - Fortis Amor Award winner

Fortis Amor
Fortis Amor
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 12 May 2017, 1:46 PM

FORTIS AMOR is a one-man Progressive Metal outfit based out of Seattle, Washington, USA. This new self-titled album contains ten tracks. From their Facebook page, they are described as “An Angelic battle amidst a forest clearing. Light trusts through branches and glistening water accompanies the sounds of disembodiment.” The album has a lot to take in, so put your thinking cap on before unleashing it, and let’s get to some highlights. “Particles” opens the album, with soft, ethereal acoustic guitars and ambient background effects, leading to a bossy main riff that builds like layers on a wedding cake.  There are multiple time changes and riff changes and the clean vocals are drawn out over top. Harsh vocals come in around 2/3rds of the way through and the track takes a darker tone. Before the end it turns the opposite direction and finishes on a lovely note.

 “Holding On To Nothing” is wonderfully depressing, for as much as the harsh vocals and heavy bottom end dominate the landscape here. The clean vocals as much of lamentations as the harsh, but the combination of the two is central to the despondent sound. “Subjected To Frustration” is led by lots of great guitar work, in both the riff and lead parts that you can hear above it. It’s still depressing as anything, but this works very well in the Prog genre, as many fans would attest to. It’s like watching a brightly colored bird fly away from your haven forever, but still having the memories of how much joy he brought to you when he was there. “Upon Yourself” is a shorter and more mellow track, reminiscent for me of the band RIVERSIDE. The clean vocal harmonies work very well with the Proggy riff and there is a lot to like going on in the background also.

“The Maiden’s Vineyard” is the third of three shorter tracks that make up the mid-section of the album. The acoustic guitar strikes do sound like jovial notes from a mandolin that you might hear in the marketplace of a medieval village. “Outpouring” I enjoy very much. The bass and guitar are working different but intertwining parts that dance together in rhythm, like watching two Brazilian street fighters engaged in the flowing martial art form of “capoeira.” I love some of the more positive aspects of the track as well. Too many depressing songs in a row can muddy an album to some degree. “Deathless” is a ten-minute track, that sports a heavy groove, of grinding teeth biting into your flesh. There is again a good balance of brutality and ambiance from the clean and death vocals trading off in various passages. The madness that builds at the end is very moving.

“Take Heart” is the closer. It’s a gut-wrencher of pain and misery, like a hopeless soul doomed for life to wander Purgatory alone. This is a very well-done work, incredibly by a single musician. It’s definitely on the harder, heavier and darker side of Progressive Metal, with plenty of Death Metal elements, but composer Ryan Duke also has a flair for the sublime, and how to connect many different sounds, melodies and atmospheres, in order to create a palate of fanciful arrangements. It’s complex, layered and sophisticated, but completely listenable at the same time. Don’t let this release fly under your radar.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Particles
2. Holding On To Nothing
3. Renewal
4. Subjected To Frustration
5. Upon Yourself
6. Bring This Petition To The Castle
7. The Maiden’s Vineyard
8. Outpouring
9. Deathless
10. Take Heart
Lineup:
Ryan Duke – Guitars, Vocals, Programming, Recording, Songwriting
Record Label: Independent
     


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