Festival Review: Fortress Festival 2024

As a young buck, I was never attracted to Black Metal more than when it was filled to the brim with inconceivable levels of exalted atmosphere that encapsulated the world around me in all aspects; emotionally, physically and geographically. As I walked up to the edge of Scarborough’s Seaside Cliff to find myself gazing down upon a castle, a briny port town, the open ocean and the set venue for a Black Metal festival right on the shore of North Yorkshire, I knew I was going to be in for an incredible weekend.


Full Band List from Day 1: Sunken, Andracca, Lamp of Murmuur, Waldgeflüster, Obsidian Kingdom, Falls of Rauros, Ultha, The Infernal Sea, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Fellwarden, Panopticon, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber, Triptykon

Falls of Rauros 

Hitting the Ocean Room Stage of the festival, Falls of Rauros began their set by letting the crowd know they hail from Scarborough, New England, and are now here for the first time overseas in Scarborough, England. I was pleasantly surprised to see an exhilarated bunch in the audience giving them the amped up welcome they damn well deserve. Filled with loads of misanthropy and melodic emotion that entwines itself in folkish foundations, you could see the natural ambience ricochet off of every corner of the room when they broke into their song Banished. And as they carried us through mystical consistencies, it all felt like it came to a close, faster than it began.

The Infernal Sea 

(And my Dödsrit crisis)

On the 17th of May, Dödsrit had announced they would be pulling out of the lineup for Fortress following a medical emergency. This, somehow, fell under my radar and I continued to boast to everyone and their uncle before the festival about how excited I was to finally be catching one of my favorite bands play. With that being said, when Dödsrit was scheduled to hit the Ocean Room for 17:45, I made sure I was at the barrier a half hour in advance in order to gain the perfect vantage point. I then slowly began to realize that something wasn’t quite right. The screens depicting the band’s name was not Dödsrit’s logo and the band in front of me completing soundcheck was definitely not Dödsrit. After looking at the set times and band list one hundred and ninety nine times and for a moment wondering if I was hallucinating, I found the Facebook post regarding their withdrawal from the festival. I was grief stricken with disappointment and my own internalized embarrassment. However, this did not last long because suddenly, The Infernal Sea hit the stage.

The Infernal Sea isn’t a band I was previously familiar with but funny enough, I recognized their logo as they’re set to play a show locally to me in September of this year. And as it goes, they were incredibly fast, heavy, visceral and loud. This caused any ounce of sadness to be absolutely shredded out of my bones without even a second thought. They went on an absolute crusade of blast beats and black n’ roll that left us all with thrash tainted enthusiasm to spare.


I remember seeing Fortress Festival’s line up for 2023 that featured the ever mystical Panopticon, and at the time, being unable to make the journey from Canada to catch them play. When they were announced to be playing again this year, I was happier than a pig in shit to finally be catching them. They played tracks like the stunning Into the North Woods and all three parts of The Long Road. The bassist had the best foot tap going while he was having the absolute time of his life. Their live fiddle player even had a moment where his luscious locks got caught up in his bow, but he bounced back with a smile and a laugh to the crowd. Their heart-felt, grandiose, unorthodox approach to Black Metal was a refreshing switch of atmosphere and memorably breathtaking.

Regarde Les Hommes Tomber

Armed with lit candelabras and burning incense to lock you into their realm of tremolo rhythms and mesmerizing vastness, there was no denying the weight of Regarde Les Hommes Tomber instrumental offerings and the fixated attention they had from everybody in the room. When bands incorporate external elements like visual and sensual production, it amplifies your all around experience as a festival goer tenfold; you become one with the provided masterful showpiece. With the vocalists shrieks and sheer magnitude of down tuned sounds that echoed through the venue, it was no wonder everyone was so entranced.

Day 2 

Full Band List from Day 2: Ante-Inferno, Blood Countess, Thy Light, Domhain, Vemod, Abyssal, Furia, Mortiferum, Gaera, Fluisteraars, Blackbraid, Misþyrming, Wolves in the Throne Room

Thy Light

It is the second day of Fortress Festival and somehow it’s an even more beautiful and extravagant day than the first? So naturally, you want to start the most perfect day off with some Depressive Suicidal Black Metal. Piercing my soul and cracking in with thunderous double bass, it’s hard to correlate the band that I listen to in my darkened hovel of a bedroom to the one I’m seeing right in front of me wafting so much energy. They’re stark and bleak but that pairs so well with their gorgeous swept solos and very fitting stage attire. I’m left with more satisfaction and thrill than I am depressive or suicidal. 


The sheer amount I have waffled on, and on, and on, and on, about Fluisteraars to just about anybody that will listen and to anyone who has ever watched me over at BangerTV, is probably concerning. If I had to pick one band that has never done me wrong and I could list you the entire discography front to back with hearts pouring out of my eye sockets in the process, it would be Fluisteraars. As it is extensively more difficult for bands to make travels from Europe to North America and vice versa, I had come to terms with the fact that it may be a quite lengthy period of time before I ever got the chance to lay my eyes on this incredible project from the Netherlands. 

Fluisteraars directly translates from Dutch to Whisperers; I will inform you right now that there were no whispers to be had during their set, especially not coming from me. Coming out in coordinated outfits that felt more sophisticatedly charming then your typical Black Metal attire, it was fitting for a band that has never boxed themselves into the norm, as well as a nice change of pace for the all around environment. They played enchanting melodic pieces like Nasleep and Tere Muur, paired with tracks like Brand Woedt In Mijn Graf that navigated heavier, faster and more engulfing passages. Their vocalist swayed around the stage with huge flowing gestures that felt more like I was having spells cast on me than anything at all. When they announced their final song, I wasn’t ready for it to be finished, but being cheeky, they closed the set with a 20 minute glorious masterpiece. I had goosebumps beyond my level of comprehension. 


Hailing from the Adirondack Mountains in the state of New York, Blackbraid has made quite the name for themselves in a very small period of time. Just like the mountains they call home, their visuals are stunning and their sound just as huge. Dark red light devoured the stage, accompanied by animal skulls, pelts and sage to incorporate their proud indigenous roots. Sgah’gahsowáh guided the crowd with his piercing vocals and exuberant, overflowing energy. It was an emotional experience fueled by anger and blood soaked history that made its own place with vigor and resilience. 


Extreme is the first word that came to my mind. AND POWERFUL! There was a fellow standing to my right having the absolute time of his life; from head banging, to screaming, to knowing every single guitar piece of every song and singing it loud in the crowd. I can easily say this was probably my favorite, and by far the best crowd of the whole festival. With an immense dose of technicality and fast riffs, Mispyrming was incredibly tight and spot on. 

Wolves in the Throne Room 

With an immense backdrop of knotwork and green vines, Wolves in the Thone Room’s drone-like ambience bounced from wall to wall. With such a vast discography from years past, they hopped back and forth from more recent endeavors to releases from the mid 2000s; giving us a taste of everything and anything entwined into one. They were cathartic, gracious and loud, wrapping up the end of the festival in the best way they possibly could.

Fortress Festival is a tremendous experience from the venue, to the seaside brine, to the array of bands that come internationally to provide such a wicked mix of sound, to the merch shops like Mercian Storm and Cult Never Dies, to the festival goers, and every little piece in-between. And hey, did you hear Agalloch will be headlining Fortress Festival 2025? I quite frankly will not be missing it for the friggin’ world. See you next year!


Editor @Hellboundmetalcanada Overkill Reviews @Bangerfilms Lover of all things gruesome

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