Formed in 1994 the German black metal outfit DARK FORTRESS have established themselves in the top ranks of the genre with intense live shows and fascinating, pitch black full-length masterpieces that meet the standard created mostly in northern Europe’s prolific scenes with ease.
Contrary to the last DARK FORTRESS album “Eidolon”, “Ylem” is not strictly a concept album; however, most songs have a common theme - invocations of the death principle from different perspectives. “Ylem" is the term for the state of the elements before the Big Bang; in alchemy, it refers to the primordial matter from which all elements were created. The return to a state of “Ylem” automatically signifies the end of everything that exists now. There is a spark of life in every living cell, but also a seed of entropy and death. This inevitable process and its aftermath is sped up and described in different scenarios, ranging from personal (“Osiris”, “Wraith”) to magical (“Ylem”, “Redivider”), religious (“Nemesis”, “The Valley”) and cosmic angles (“Silence”, “As the World Keels Over”). The insignificance of the feeble evolutionary detour that is man is evident, for our future is clear: we will be nothing but dust and bones on a scorched, lifeless rock waiting to be devoured by the sun. This vision is also the basis of Stephen Lenfestey's artwork for the album.
Musically, it is safe to say that they took the next step in their development - as DARK FORTRESS have always done. “We all keep growing as musicians, and we would never make the same album twice. Where “Eidolon” was a compact missile, shot to kill instantly, on “Ylem” we explore the stylistic diversity inherent in this band deeper than ever before. There is a lot of slow, very heavy stuff going on, some truly rotten clean parts, but also insane blastbeats, some orchestral darkness, and tons of killer riffs to break your neck to. It is our ambition that every song is its own world and has a strong and unmistakable identity. We exploited this ambition to the fullest here”, explains Morean (vocals).
DARK FORTRESS recorded in V Santura's (guitars, also guitars in Triptykon and Noneuclid, and former live-guitarist for Celtic Frost) Woodshed studio without any outside influences or distractions, which was a great pleasure after the difficult circumstances in which the last two albums came to life. “Most of the music is Santura's, but we others did contribute substantially. For guest vocals on the track "Wraith" we invited Mortal, a good friend of ours, and in a certain sense it became the most extreme track in the history of this band.”
“We understand black metal nowadays as quite a variety of styles, rather than a single type of music.” They embrace everything that supports the atmosphere of bleakness and death as equally valid. It will be up to the listener to judge in how far this album is black metal, but it is without a doubt very, very DARK FORTRESS. “We figured that our fans know they have to keep an open mind, and we'd rather be judged as an independent musical entity rather than representatives of a specific genre.” “Ylem” is the living proof of that, and there can be no question that some things on this album are the best things the band has ever done. Check them out on tour with Satyricon, Shining and Posthum in December, where they will present some new songs live for the first time. Additional touring is already being worked on for 2010.