Currently the World wide Metal scene is flourishing but it wasn't the same comfortable situation […]
By YngwieViking
July 29, 2013
Forte - Invictus album cover

Currently the World wide Metal scene is flourishing but it wasn't the same comfortable situation two decades ago, FORTE were another unsung heroes of the Heavy Metal resistance, and it's time for me to pay tribute for those who fought tooth and nail in the underground for the Metallic world domination. The reissue label Divebomb Records, had already provided a delicious gift for the real Metalheads fans with a stunning deluxe reissue in 2011, for "Stranger Than Fiction": the debut album by Oklahoma's based FORTE, it was quickly followed by a brand new recording titled "Unholy War" as a comeback album last year.

Today it's another real treat for the Headbanging community, a great two-disc anthology called "Invictus", which is the subject of my analysis: Composed by thirty four tracks out of the now -hard to find- albums as 1994's "Division", 1997's "Destructive" and "Rise Above" published in 1999, the whole, updated, newly remastered, refined with liner notes that include lyrics, vintage photos, cover artworks, bio-extracts and press clippings. Each original CD is nowadays out of print and accordingly all titles are high priced and sought after collectors' items. So if you do not have the complete catalog, this is the time to correct your past mistakes, go run fast and buy right away, quick, faster .

I'm lucky enough to have in my large collection, the Massacre Records' first pressings and I still remember having discovered the band in the early 90's while the mainstream and even the Metal audience was sold to the alternative Seattle grunge crap, they were together with JUDAS PRIEST's "Painkiller" and DREAM THEATER early albums and a few others, a salvation's presage an encouraging breath of fresh air, back then, I was thrilled and very impressed by this gang. My favorites are still "Division" and the heaviest "Destructive", both strongly influenced by the early PANTERA sound, but they also share the same influences as the "Cowboys From Hell", indeed you can hear a lot of elements of mid 80s American Heavy Metal such as METAL CHURCH / ANNIHILATOR / MEGADETH / FORBIDDEN / TESTAMENT / HELSTAR / WRATH and EXXHORDER. As PANTERA, a duo of immensely talented brothers is at the helm of that band, Jeff and Greg Scott respectively guitarist and drummer are the virtuoso stalwarts of FORTE, keeping the focus, staying strong despite the vagaries and the personnel turn-over, remaining true to their sound: this was their motto.

US Power Metal with a Thrashy edged flavor, still very melodic but uncompromisingly sharp, fast, energetic and quite technical, this is the best stylistic description, that I can make, those ingredients mixed with soaring vocals , mostly in the late period within 1996-2000 with David Thompson fronting, but the early line-up was also excellent with another fine vocalist Bill Dollins and an high profile Mohawk Bass player Rev Jones ("E.2.M.N.") whom will later found playing with legendary Michael Schenker Group or the more underground BLACK SYMPHONY and FROST. One of the highlights moment for "Division" was and still is the survolted and furious cover of ACCEPT's Speed Metal classic, "Fast As A Shark", which is played in an even more intense version than the original, even Twenty years later the band still doesn't seems obsolete or weakened.

Once again the guys at Divebomb Records are hitting bull eye, with a release as this high caliber collection like "Invictus" they are right on the spot , and it is going to be of of the most interesting reissue package for 2013, with a such a combination of huge songs and such a worthy comprehensive, beautiful item that will pleased all the fans old and new as well, as I can be that a pretty impressive introduction to FORTE's scorching music or a reminder as how this band is the perfect prototype of the underrated act in its plenitude.

9 / 10

Almost Perfect

"Invictus" Track-listing:

Disc 1 - Rise Above / Destructive
1. Man Against Machine
2. Fading Away
3. Ninety Nine
4. Forgiven
5. Rise Above
6. Destroyer
7. Poison Tongue
8. Burn
9. Over My Head
10. Until the End of Time
11. Barcode
12. Deviate
13. Hammer
14. Destructive
15. October
16. Heal Me
17. Strength
18. Neversleep
19. The Hard Way
20. Art of War
21. Eternal
22. Far Away

Disc 2 - Division
1. Dischord
2. One Flesh
3. Inhuman
4. Division
5. Thirteen Steps
6. Legacy of Silence
7. The Last Machine
8. Ultimatum
9. E.2.M.N.
10. Back to Zero
11. In This Life
12. Fast As a Shark

Forte Lineup:

Greg Scott - Drums / Vocals
Bill Dollins - Lead Vocals
David Thompson - Lead Vocals
Rev Jones - Bass
Richard Sharp - Bass / Keyboards
Jeff Scott - Lead Guitars

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