I think it's safe to say that if it had not been for Tom Gabriel Fischer's post-Celtic Frost passtime Triptykon, I would never have heard of Dark Fortress, let alone volunteered for the review duty of their latest and seventh studio album. The fact that I keep reading that guitarist V. Santura has a lot to do with the grim coolness of Triptykon lured me in, admittedly. So, is 'Venereal Dawn' just a Celtic Frost or Triptykon clone band? No, they're not. The thing with Triptykon is that most of what Tom Warrior touches has this unworldly element of, dunno, pain? Evil? Not sure, what it is, but it's unique. In comparison, Dark Fortress is just a band who play black metal with melody, and, yes, they play around with the black metal genre, which by all means is cool - but then again, who doesn't these days?
All songs, bar one, clock up over six minutes, and this is actually my main complaint about this album. I manage to get bored along the way. The first time is fourth tune, Chrysalis, which from my perspective is going absolutely nowhere and most of all reminds me of Opeth (whom I always found terrifyingly boring). Dark Fortress are the target of this comparison on more than one occasion throughout the album.
Apart from that, there is actually loads of diversity and more than one golden nugget riff along the 68 minute road that is 'Venereal Dawn'. There's no one song I can pick out as 'the hit', although one of the candidates definitely is the epic 11 minute final track On Fever's Wings, with piano intro and middle section, female vocals, heavy as fuck bits, ensnaring melodic guitars and whatnot.
'Venereal Dawn' is not what I'd call an instant classic, but it should certainly has its moments for those Opeth fans who also dig a wee bit of black metal.