Nightmare Fortress – “The Wanting” (2015)

So remember a few days back when I wrote about Nightmare Fortress’ 2012 EP Until the Air Runs Out? And remember how I said that I’d ordering a copy of their 2015 LP The Wanting? Well, I did, and it just arrived in my mailbox.

The first thing that strikes me is that Nightmare Fortress’ song structure has firmed up considerably – The Wanting sounds as if the tracks were planned out in meticulous detail and flawlessly executed. But… with all that structure, I feel like we lost a bit of the danger that I loved so much about Until the Air Runs Out. Don’t get me wrong, The Wanting can put you on edge with songs like “Terminal” and “Mourning Star,” and what I’m mostly hearing is a smoother and more danceable album (for my Icelandophile friends, I get a very Bloodgroup Tracing Echoes vibe to it). And I totally dig it.

The Wanting comes on purple vinyl and is limited to an edition of 250. You can get a sample track from their Bandcamp page HERE, and they still have copies of both The Wanting and Until the Air Runs Out, just waiting for you.

Nightmare Fortress – “Until the Air Runs Out” (2012)

I came home from our recent trip to Sweden and Iceland with enough music to keep me busy for probably two months. That did not stop me, however, from going to Easy Street Records yesterday for their anniversary sale, because why would it? The fact that all the shelf space I currently have allocated to records is full isn’t an issue. Not really. It just means I have two trips in my future. One to the used book store to sell off a bunch of books, and another to Ikea to buy new shelving to replace one of the bookshelves with record cubes. Problem solved. Done and done.

My primary purpose of going to Easy Street was to pick up the new releases from Metallica and A Tribe Called Quest, but while there I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a quick flip through the new used arrivals. And right in front was a pristine copy of Nightmare Fortress’ 2012 EP Until the Air Runs Out on blood-red vinyl. Score.

I’m not sure how Nightmare Fortress has escaped my notice over these last few years. I’m into darkwave (the band describes themselves as “grave rave”), and they’re from Seattle. I mean, c’mon. I think I need to get out more, because I can’t believe I’m missing stuff like this. (♠)

Right out of the gate I’m loving Nightmare Fortress, who remind me of a cleaner sounding, less raw version of another band I’m into, MALLEVS. But the band comparison game is meaningless really, even though we all indulge in it from time to time. Because every band has it’s own unique characteristics, and that’s certainly true for Nightmare Fortress.

Alicia Amiri rightfully gets a lot of attention, as her darkly confident vocal delivery makes you fear her a bit… while actually enjoying that sense of fear. She doesn’t fall into the typical darkwave trap of monotone moroseness, taking full advantage of her range and the emotional responses her voice can elicit from the listener.

But it’s not all just Amiri. The combination of simple 1960s horror movie style synths and the deeper, richer low end keyboards by Colin Roper and Blair Field generate an intriguing disparity, perhaps nowhere as noticeable as on “Visionquest” and it’s blend of vampire movie, 1980s new wave, and IDM electro-ness, which is actually so intriguing in its own right that it pushes the vocals into the background, making them sound like another instrument. It would be easy for Cassidy Gonzales’ guitar to get lost in Roper and Field’s electronic ocean, but he carves out some space to drive the songs forward and give them a bit more of an edge, most obviously on my favorite track, “Hang You On the Wall.”

You can listen to and purchase Until the Air Runs Out, as well as other releases by Nightmare Fortress, on their Bandcamp page HERE. They’re definitely worth checking out, and I, for one, intend on buying a copy of their 2015 LP The Wanting immediately, because I’ve got to have more Nightmares…

(♠) Or it’s the opposite and I need to stay in more, listening to music and reading blogs.