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Human Fortress - "Thíeves Of The Night" (CD)

Human Fortress - "Thíeves Of The Night" CD cover image

"Thíeves Of The Night" track listing:

1. Amberstow
2. Last Prayer To The Lord
3. Rise Or Fall
4. Thieves Of The Night
5. Thrice Blessed
6. Hellrider
7. Just A Graze
8. Vicious Circle
9. Smite On The Anvil
10. Dungeons Of Doom
11. Gift Of Prophecy
12. Alone

Reviewed by on March 22, 2016

"If rich full songwriting with uplifting bridges and cascading choruses that are bound by metallic riffs and deep solos catch your ear, then Human Fortress has created a masterpiece that will sneak up on you..."

It’s been three years since Germany’s Human Fortress burst back on the scene after a five year hiatus with “Raided Land” - introducing the world to the new singer Gus Monsanto, one of Brazil’s finest offerings. Since “Raided Land,” Monsanto didn’t rest on his laurels when the rest of Human Fortress hunkered down into writing mode – he went on to release an album with Marmor (“Alma Celta”) and guest on albums from Exxiles, Sons of Haze and Skyeart, to name a few. As for Symbolica… I continue to wait for a resurrection… but I digress. If “Raided Land” was a full return for Human Fortress, then surely “Thieves of the Night” ranks among its best.

If you regularly read my reviews, one of the multiple repeating points made is on songwriting. So, whether it be speedsters like “Amberstow” or “Rise or Fall” or mid-paced melodic perfection like “Thieves of the Night” or “Dungeons of Doom” – here are a few words to describe the songwriting: stellar, memorable, enlightening. There is no doubt that the creative team of Torsten Wolf, Volker Trost, Laki Zaios and Dirk Liehm have everything well in hand since the violent change in sound on 2008’s “Eternal Empire.” What appears on “Thieves of the Night” is a progression of the rebirth of “Raided Land,” with shades of classic Running Wild strewn among the band’s patented melodic masterpieces (see “Gift Of Prophecy” and “Rise Or Fall”).

The album’s heaviest track is the brooding, dark and rhythmic “Thrice Blessed,” where a chugging riff on repeat widens to a bridge of wonders and chorus before free falling back to its origin. The song may not be the best Human Fortress song ever composed… but it certainly is the most memorable, amounting to the same thing in my book. Another track that sneaks up and bites with an impressive venom is “Hell Rider.” Again, not the best track the band has ever written, but its melody clings like ivy.

Orden Ogan’s Seeb Levermann handled the mixing of the album, pretty much giving listeners a stamp of perfection. Seeb, like Simone Mularoni, is a producer in high demand and for good reason. The mix shows off the best from all the musicians with a keen ear to not allow Liehm’s keyboards to overwhelm Wolf and Trost’s guitars or Zaios drum work. On full display is bassist Andre Hort, whose plucking is quite pronounced (just check out “Just A Graze”).

If you are not fan of melodic power metal, there won’t be much for you to latch onto with “Thieves of the Night.” However, if rich full songwriting with uplifting bridges and cascading choruses that are bound by metallic riffs and deep solos catch your ear, then Human Fortress has created a masterpiece that will sneak up on you, guaranteed to have you thinking about where it might rank in your year’s best list. Gus is at the top of his game now, like a Brazilian Rick Altzi, sporting similar guile, grit, and range. His performance on “Thieves of the Night” is the best of his expanding career.

Highs: The best Human Fortress album since "Lord of Earth and Heavens Heir."

Lows: Melodic metal offers nothing to the fan seeking the extreme side of things.

Bottom line: Human Fortress charges in and steals your soul like "Thieves of the Night!"

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)