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Fort - In a New Light


The simply mind-boggling success of a band like Clutch (and to a slightly lesser extent, Fu Manchu, Orange Goblin, and Fireball Ministry) made it only a matter of time before that particular formula was adapted by other nations and their own distinct outlooks. Australia (with a vast, barren interior that almost calls for spaced out desert rock and nothing else) is no different, so enter the band once named Forte and now going by Fort.

Upon first listen, one may find themselves comparing Fort a bit too often with the more recognized American juggernaut that Clutch grew into heavy touring and years of hard work. Ironically enough, Fort's brand of raw, jamming, and psychedelica-tinged hard rock maintains a much more laidback stoner fun vibe to it. Personally, I can't see even the softest of Clutch tracks as being anything besides asskicking rock 'n roll of the highest order, and Fort is a bit more chilled than that. That isn't to say In a New Light is a boring album because, believe me, it really never falls into predictable songwriting. Now that I'm writing this, I realize that Fort are actually pretty talented at injecting just the right amount of variation into a set-template, so as to seem both familiar and progressive song-to-song.

"Intro" is just that...some quiet cymbal beats and ray-of-sun guitar notes warm your flesh before massive riffs start, stop, and rumble into the formidable "Ghost Train." A swinging, mid-tempo riff with some space rock wanking in the background takes center stage, and the band frequently launches into buzzing sing-alongs that will churn stomachs and perk up ears with catchy hooks. Friendly enough for pussy rock fans, but heavy enough where people like me don't feel like we're being corn-fed the next line of "rock savior" bulls*** on MTV2 or something like that.

"Submachine" bellows out low riffs with some bitching cowbell, and is basically an arena rock anthem on some heavy downers. "Risin Sun of Venus" has an excellent clean rock hook and some fiery notes that will get stuck in your head; once Fort actually do set the cannons blazing you won't see the massive chords thundering towards your face at high velocity. Frontman Andy Walker enters the perfect balance between cool-and-collected asskicking and crooning 1990's alternative frontman, the song probably appealing to all grounds with melody, aggression, and passion split into equal portions.

The mellowed out "Her Motive's Right" slinks in on a cocky palm mute and some bass; when the song turns into a soaring descent into amp worship, the booming riffing and splashing percussion will have people slow-banging and throwing the horns in large numbers both. Don't forget to check out drummer Deon Driver's restrained power-drumming as it metamorphs between calm groove and brief thunderf***s of explosive righteousness. The short interlude that is "Onetwenty" is a moody jaunt through ethereal, emotive desert rock that eventually leads into a blazing climax of sinister fury and raw emotion you won't think the band had. Hell, there is even a breakdown of sorts there!

"Deadweight" follows up on that with a concrete-splitting anthem to bad choices and destructive decisions. Much like before, the song surprises by getting harder and more furious as things expand, a fireball of a rocker lighting in your unguarded eardrums. "Monsta Trucka" slinks in on a cloud of hazy, gaseous effects and sultry, oversexed double-entendes. The trippy bridge mid-song builds into a torso-melting mushroomhead from the heart, great stuff.

"Santa Rosa" some beautiful wind-chimes in the intro, before a subtle, barely clean melody comes in and blossoms like a cactus flower into an unforgiving, harsh, journey through a desert of raw, massive rock. Actually, "Santa Rosa" is one of the most gripping tracks on the disc, moving music really. Did I mention it doesn't have a single lyric to it, and it sounds like something the mighty Sword could have penned?

The gargantuan sludge anthem that is "In a New Light" will have Clutch fans gripping their chests in wheezing joy, and pretty much everyone else psyched too. Alternating between shaking, paranoid, bass-line verses, the band lets loose again and again with wall-of-sound catharsis.

"White Sands of Brays" hums with a whistful, bong-gripping melody, moments before crushing, space-rawk gallops out of your stereo to give you one great time. "Skychaser" hangs on a precipice of anticipation moments in; when the band leaps off into a soaring abyss of simply massive rock 'n roll, you can't help but scream out your joy at hearing some hard rock done right.

The funky (yet still gigantic) mammoth that is "Fly" sets up the slayer that is "Slo Glyde" perfectly. The former is a rocking divebomb, the latter a moody, psychedelic comedown that ends the album on a relaxed, contented pace. Coudln't have sucker-punched me better....

Able to accurately switch between heavy, pounding hard-rock tailored for selling out arenas and being worshipped, Fort due the whole laid-back chilling vibe too. Lost in the desert with the spirits of Kyuss, The Sword, Clutch, and a little Pink Floyd, these Aussies will bring so much new to the hard rock offering of today that you'll start to see it In a New Light. Highly recommended.

Track Listing
1. Intro
2. Ghost Train
3. Submachine
4. Risin Sun of Venus
5. Her Motive's Right
6. Onetwenty
7. Deadweight
8. Monsta Trucker
9. Santa Rosa
10. In a New Light
11. White Sands of Brays
12. Skychaser
13. Fly
14. Slo Glyde

Rating:


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