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Hellixxir – The Black Fortress Award winner

The Black Fortress
by "Der Bärtige Mann" Gareth Beams at 30 November 2019, 9:10 PM

The Frenchmen return with “The Black Fortress” with their first Full-Length album since 2011’s “Corrupted Harmony”, in the mean time they did bring out a compilation “A Dull Light Around” in 2018. Do they still have what it takes to bring out a kick ass album? Let’s see

The Black Fortress” starts the album off with a mix of Thrash, Death and Black Metal vibes. It is a good mix. The vocal mix match the melody so well. There are some great technical riffs on this song, that any band would be happy to call their own. The harmonic balance is amazing. This maybe a more Melodic Black Metal sound, and it is not for everyone, but this band are slaying it.  The song fades out gently, but perfectly. “By the Stars Be Deceived” sounds like something you’d hear on a TOXIC HOLOCAUST album, which is no insult to either party. Vocally, it has the death growl of older Black metal bands like EVILFEAST. The instrumentals are once again fantastic. The Progressive riffs could be from GORIJA. This band know how to pull a sound together and make it work. The vocals ae clear enough to follow, which I think is an important thing. Closing the song is fantastic riff collection.

Parapraxis” has an aggressive vocal start, which adds depth to the album as a whole. The vocals are faster which, to keep up with the melody, slows down in segments that that shows complete control all round. The build-up midway in the song works to set up new riffs to take place; it is a great song with so many new angles.  This is their own sound, no one else’s. It’s a technical stroke of genius this song. “Oxymoronic Way of Life” starts life off sounding similar to a DISSECTION song, which works its way into thicker, darker vocals, laying the path for the melody to follow. The balance, again is in full force, you don’t get the impression that anything just happens in the song, its planned out and execute perfectly. The progression of the song works beautifully to create the dark harmony required.

Pure Contingency” continues the pace and sounds from where “Oxymoronic Way of Life” left off. The death growl is executed perfectly. The build-up in the background sounds perfect, seemingly through years of experience, this melody suits.  The change of pace keeps heads banging and us wanting more. The control shown in this song is phenomenal. The riffs break away again, followed by drums, but its harmonic how it is done. There is not a beat or note out of place. “Venomous Delight” sounds like the demonic pudding instead of Angel Delight. Strawberry flavour please. The feel of the song is catchy again, the dark and clean mix vocals works together to blend and mix up. The beat is at such levels where you cannot help but tap feet and bang heads. It is a great song with the instrumental melody, it pays into different styles, but in such a way to create its own style and that is a brilliant thing to be able to pull off.

A Journey to the Ineffable” kicks off with a hell of a solo. Where and why the hell have they been hiding that skill? The melody is fantastic again, but it's in new territory again, how many styles can they perfect? The aggressive vocal stance returns, but it’s the exact match for what is needed. There is a few Hardcore, Thrash selections added all over, but its put together beautifully. “Tat Tvam Asi the Cosmic Veil of Illusion” has a thicker, darker start to it. It’s a good blend of styles they have already shown, but adding a darker depth to creating an almost ABSU style of Black Metal. The laughter samples added in are a decent touch. It’s hard to point the exact style this song has, because it has so many. All the styles blend, working as one to make it another great song for this brilliant album

Unremembered Thoughts” has the DISSECTION sound as a build-up. The song seems like it will be a slower, winding song. The pace is picked up nicely, as this is an instrumental song, it is basically just a filler song for the album. It completes its purpose to the desired effects. “Wolf Behind Bars” holds nothing back, its furious from the off. There is less balance and more frenzy to this song, but it is done in a way where control is not lost, but it amplifies the sound to become a great song. The thrash riffs are used brilliantly, so effective in the progression of sound to a song, which could be one of the best on the album. There are many bands out there that would be more than happy to have this sound on their albums. “Theodicy” is the closer to the album, it's always a downer when you know it’s the last song. This song has the aggressive, thrash style vocals along with a decent beat and tempo. The song has almost Sludge style vocals used here that Kirk Windstein (CROWBAR, DOWN and KINGDOM OF SORROW) would be proud of. The technical genius still does not fail the instrumentalists here and goes onto create more amazing melodies, right until the end.

This is up there for album of the year in its genre. There is nothing negative to say. It has everything. If this is HELLIXXIR starting up again as a warm up, then strap in because it's going to be a fun ride. This is a solid 10/10 and that’s only because 10 is the limit. This album has no limit! No song is skip-able

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. The Black Fortress
2. By the Stars Be Deceived
3. Parapraxis
4. Oxymoronic Way of Life
5. Pure Contingency
6. Venomous Delight
7. A Journey to the Ineffable
8. Tat Tvam Asi the Cosmic Veil of Illusion
9. Unremembered Thoughts (Instrumental)
10. Wolf Behind Bars
11. Theodicy
Alexandre Manin –Vocals
Matthieu Laforêt – Guitars
Baptiste Gastaldin – Bass Guitar & Vocals
Arthur Raulin – Guitars
Romain Charbonnier – Drums
Record Label: Music-Records


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