FORTRESS “Don’t Spare the Wicked”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Another band called FORTRESS! What’s the story with this one? They’re a melodic metal band in the traditional vein hailing from Southern California. There’s no shortage of that these days, but these guys are very much in the higher echelon of the subgenre.

First things first: FORTRESS has a powerful weapon in its arsenal with the excellent vocals of one Chris Scott Nunez. This guy is pure class, with vocals that remind me of Dickinson and a bit of Jorn Lande. Very, very smooth, with the important touch of emotion that many singers neglect. As for the band themselves, they have a very RAINBOW feel on “Lost Forever”, with strong keyboard backing and shredding lead guitar from Fili Bibiano. There’s even a touch of early YNGWIE here. Next track “Devil’s Wheel” is grittier, rougher and ditches the keys. So there’s already a touch of unpredictability to the band.

“Find Yourself” finds Nunez at his Brucie-est, which fits this very NWOBHM sounding tune. “Children of the Night” brings back the keys for another RAINBOW/DIO-esque cruncher. The album only really stumbles with the mellow and pretty inconsequential instrumental “The Passage”. But that gives a breather before the album ends on a fiery note with the melodic speed metal of the title track, where FORTRESS has all cylinders burning.

A most acceptable true metal album, with slightly different influences than usual and a whisper of AOR melody to its sharpened steel…