Death Fortress – Deathless March of the Unyielding (2016)

death fortress deathless march of the unyielding

Article by Corey M.

Death Fortress play a truly bellicose version of black metal but not in the Blasphemy war-metal style aped by pointless tribute acts. Deathless March of the Unyielding is minimalist in that it eschews all excessive instrumentation like all the best black metal. Guitars slash out streams of elegiac tremolo melodies or simply strummed chords (there are no leads or trippy guitar effects). The drums either play blasts or dominant marching rhythms. Vocals orate battle commands or agonizingly recount Pyrrhic victories. The overall theme of the music seems to be battles with no heroes and wars with no victors. It’s a deconstruction of Graveland‘s or Bathory‘s style that brought forth the glorious aspect of defeating and conquering: war is still the object in question but the subject isn’t life; it is sorrowful, lonely death.

The melodies are crafted with a tenuous balance between intense grimness and clouded dejection. This is music about warriors and war but not in the fantastical sense that black metal usually takes: no witchcraft or frozen forests are to be found here, only shredded tank tracks, bent artillery barrels, crushed bodies of hapless infantry infused in twisted heaps of smoldering slag, and blackened holes gouged into the earth itself. A useful comparison would be Sammath‘s mid-period output of Dodengang and Triumph in Hatred, though those albums reveal a deeply heartfelt motivation to illustrate the gruesome carnage of warfare without completely abandoning the near-romantically empathetic ties to the fallen fighter. Death Fortress take a more distant, aloof approach, neither glorifying nor condemning the act or outcome and treating the soldier as another soulless statistic. Both bands approach the horrific topic with a sternly wide-eyed, unflinching resolve, giving us the opportunity to witness visions far more stark and distressing than the cartoonish swords ‘n’ sorcery take on combat that black metal too often peddles.

Yet this album suffers from a major drawback: the musicians share the contemporary tendency to disappear up their own asses in wringing all emotive potential from a line of melody. There aren’t any comically awufil or idiotic chord progressions but some of them are inappropriate and others repeated for far too long. The songs have plenty of breathing room and the band never seem to be at a loss for direction or trying to cram in too many lyrics before their riffs overstay their welcome. At times, it’s too easy to become impatient while waiting for the band to introduce the next segment. No amount of drum fills or effects trickery would fix this; the fat needs to be trimmed and the compositions made more concise. A leaner, more refined Death Fortress could easily rise above the better-than-average position in which they sit now.

Readers may listen to Deathless March of the Unyielding at Death Fortress’s Bandcamp page and purchase a physical copy from Fallen Empire Records.

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10 thoughts on “Death Fortress – Deathless March of the Unyielding (2016)”

  1. Mythic Imagination says:

    Promising material, reminds me of Sammath plus Inquisition. Will have to give it more listens though, as it stands I think its a bit overlong and like the review says, need refinement. Good review, hails!

  2. Nocturnal Warrior of Satin says:


    I cannot understand why you would want the readership to burden themselves with albums like this one when you have bands like ARMAGEDDA releasing albums to this day?

    Armagedda – Only True Believers (Full Album

    1. C.M. says:

      Hell I dunno. You tell me. Is this worth listening to? Because the first two minutes are not interesting.

    2. C.M. says:

      Some parts sounded a little too rock-n-rolly to me at first but it’s actually pretty good stuff. I recommend this over Death Fortress.

  3. Poser Patrol says:

    Based on your description I was expecting something a little more grinding. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how melodious this. Somewhat derivative but they avoid being too cliche or obvious. I’ll be downloading this (for free)

  4. Anndra says:

    strange to see a positive review for Death Fortress, since this band is basically a Hate Forest clone, and Hate Forest always get negative reviews here.

    1. C.M. says:

      Never heard Hate Forest, so maybe I would have been harsher had I heard any cloning in DF’s music.

      1. Anndra says:

        well, my point wasn’t really about cloning – i actually love a good clone – but rather the inconsistencies that frequently crop up on this site and it’s network. Hate Forest/Drudkh have always been slagged by DMU/DLA, but now a copy-cat band is getting a positive review. i notice also that Sacrilege are given a very poor review in the recent ‘Sadistic Metal Reviews’, yet they’ve been very positively reviewed before on DLA and by Brett Stevens on DMU. now, none of this would be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that DMU portrays itself as such a totalistic entity (reviews by ‘Staff’) – a united front for ‘good’ music, the vanguard of quality metal – but honestly i don’t think the editors of this site have a fucking clue about metal or even about what they’re trying to achieve with this website.

        1. The Death Fortress review wasn’t positive; it said the band had potential if they wrote real songs which they didn’t.

    2. Poser Patrol says:

      It seems more likely that both bands were just cloning Immortal – Battles In the North.

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