Dungeon - Fortress Of Rock - 3.5/5
Usually the bane of my existence, very rarely does a band supersede a lousy knob job to charm its way into my musically black heart. Exceptions usually come from the hazy hemp induced fog of the NWOBHM, where quite often, a botched production could lift a band into realms unknown, creating new(totally by error) terrain for metal to roam. I think of Venom, Savage, Angel Witch, Grim Reaper, and More in these terms. Black and Death metal seem to have overcome these impediments to its fans for the most part, but not to these ears.
So here we have an American entry into the junk heap of lousy sounding albums that, when given proper attention, turns out to be quite fetching in its lunk-headed quest to conquer. While the gutted and thin guitar sound is initially off putting, the strength of song and a full blooded performance by vocalist Buddy Hughes lift this album unto a new plane of being. It works quite well thank you, despite it's inherent short comings.
Enduring melodies, varied modes of attack, good old '80's cheese lyrically, and a timeless aggression vital for memorable metal, all combine to make this a most worthy aural journey. Riffs are strong, solos concise and well aimed, drums adventurous and more than adequate. Dungeon ride that mid pace gallop perfected and perpetrated by other luminaries such as the previously mentioned NWOBHM punters, another touchstone being Cirith Ungol, Dungeon mirroring their off beat approach and unpredictability. The vocalist occasionally reminds one of Ungol's Godly Tim Baker as well, as he shrieks and growls his way through each mini epic, stamping each track with unbridled enthusiasm and authority. A certain Savatage -like aura is also attained.
I highly recommend this sledge to any fan of old school metal, or indeed any fan of good music period. In spite of it's underground production, and total obscurity then and now, Dungeon's Fortress of Rock is a valiant stab at metal relevance, and quite a successful one at that. The kind of obscurity that makes wading through mounds of dreck worthwhile. Enter the Dungeon.
Choice Cuts: Infernal Reign, Permanent Wish,Seasons of the Witch