Human Fortress - Reign οf Gold

Human Fortress Reign οf Gold cover
Human Fortress
Reign οf Gold
AFM Records
Human Fortresses career is a little weird. They released two imperfect by highly promising albums with vocalist Joti Parharides, who went on to sing for Herman Frank and Victory, among others, that were inspiring slabs of power metal, but then did a 180 turn, by releasing a third album that only retained the moniker and went into a groove direction, introducing a new singer that only lasted that album’s cycle. Following an onslaught of negative reviews they once again switched their style back to power metal and employed the vocals of one Gus Monsanto (ex-Adagio, ex-Revolution Renaissance), a well-traveled Brazilian vocalist with a wealth of experience and ability. The next album managed to make the sourness and ire of fans, subside and almost disappear and since 2013 the band has released albums like clockwork, every three years.
The problem is that while the past two albums saw the band on the rise, “Reign of Gold” seems to find the band hitting a plateau.
“Imminence” is an intro that leads to the exciting “Thunder”, which is a song that shows some conviction and gut, but as the title track slow down the pace and ups the heaviness, saving itself by the skin of its teeth, songs after that vary in quality and conviction, but not in tempo.
While “Lucifer’s Waltz” is pretty good, “Bullet of Betrayal” despite its interesting intro and playful instrumentation just doesn’t have quite the same effect.
“Shining Light” is a ballad and despite getting symphonic and powerful midway, just kills the last remnants of energy that the album has left up to that point.
“Surrender” is characterized, by some heavy and energetic drumming and Monsanto screams his lungs out, but the riffing isn’t as exciting as it should be, feeling almost like an afterthought to the song.
“The Blacksmith” is average at best, but here for some reason, the mix sounds quite a bit worse, than on other songs, with not enough instrument separation and vocals that seem to cut through more than anything else, it feels as if different songs on the album were done during different sessions and the mastering barely keeps it all together, in this case, it almost doesn’t.
“Martial Valor” chorus reminds me of something else, a whole lot, but at least is sounds like a nice throw back to the band’s past.
“Legion of the Damned” isn’t super original, but at least it’s speedy passages jolt some energy back to the album… but a song from the end it feels a bit too little too late… it might have been better in the place of the ballad, as “Victory” feels like the more mid-tempo and ponderous continuation of “Martial Valor”, it’s conclusion if you will.
While there’s nothing majorly bad with the album, there’s a lot of slower and not as great songs in the middle, with riffs that are simply working, but don’t elevate songs above mediocrity. Monsanto does a good job all things considered, but he’s not exactly given the best material in his career, yet he manages to salvage at least half, if not more of the album. The mix and production are middle of the road and that’s probably where the album lands as a whole.