Photos By Acidolka

Live Review: Fortress Festival – The Highlights, Scarborough Spa

As we’re on double duty this weekend doing special DeVlog interviews and with two stages of awesome black metal greatness, we have had to give you the highlights of what we’ve seen here in Scarbados, as the locals lovingly refer to it. This is unlike any festival we’ve attended before. For a start, it takes place in the beautiful Victorian surroundings of the Scarborough Spa, a gorgeous venue that we’re told is reputedly very haunted—how apt!

Day One

The first of this weekend’s masked menaces Lamp Of Murmur bring atmospheric cold epic black metal to the main stage and take no prisoners with their reverberations clattering the Victorian ballroom. The setting here is absolutely perfect and brings a sense of occasion as seeing this music in this environment is a special treat. As the dying synths ring out, we have witnessed the weekend truly kicking off in full blackened splendor.

Obsidian Kingdom sound glorious hammering out cuts from their incredible ‘Meat Machine’ opus, a fantastic change in proceedings and a band that defy classification, they truly exist as one in a league of one. As at home at Fortress festival as they are sound tracking a silent movie, a total enigma. Obsidian Kingdom bring high drama and more than a touch of class to proceedings and we love them for it! The band leaves with a raft of converts in a squall of feedback, utterly stunning.

Germany’s Ultha start by giving respect to the promoters who put this entire event on, Reaper Agency, just before they inform us this is one of only 3 gigs they’ve played in the UK. Over the space of four songs in forty minutes their primal and somewhat creepy take on scorching BM gives way to occasional gothic overtones and is exceptionally effective in this grand theatre. Blurred tremolo picking and blast beats merge to form waves of sounds crashing over the crowd and, in a sense, mirroring the beautiful seafront outside. Ultha are quite an overwhelming experience live and a rare one too, one of many rare sights and sounds here today. The crowd knows they are witnessing a very special performance and roar their approval at the top of their lungs.

The Infernal Sea are outright devastating, blasting forth with ‘Lord Abhorrent’ and their tales of Hopkins, the despicable witchfinder general! This band doesn’t do bad gigs, period. ‘Shadow Of The Beast’ follows and it’s awesome to hear the UK in full effect on this most worldwide of bills. As Witchfinder brings the awesome, ”Hang The Witch” refrain we dream of how epic this would have been on the Theatre stage but with The Infernal Sea being last minute additions this more intimate surrounding is just about holding them in, just! ‘Bastard Of The East’ bristles with spite and is dedicated to all the bastards here. Today Infernal Sea just rule as they always do, dependably malevolent and totally brutal.

The Infernal Sea

DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT do an ethereal spaced out take on black metal in the theatre. They fill the Scarborough seaside air full of spectral choirs floating high above the precision blasting attack. It’s trippy and brutal at the same time, a bit like doing acid and listening to Enslaved…maybe?


Panopticon are the most talked about band today by far and their folky USBM is clearly immensely popular with the crowd here. With this being a rare performance on these shores’ anticipation is high. Panopticon don’t disappoint their fans and for us as we are on double duty that is day one’s end as we have to pack ourselves up and get ready for tomorrow.


We are dutifully informed that the mighty Thomas G Warrior was his imperious self, first in the lecture theatre where he was taking part in a live interview with Dayal Patterson of the awesome Cult Never Dies publishing house and all-round black metal authority. Secondly Mr Warrior took his warlords in Triptykon and from all reports in the media room utterly slayed the theatre stage.

Day Two

Ante Inferno blast into the main stage and immediately blow away last night’s cobwebs with razor sharp riffing and apocalyptic vibes piercing the room with serrated efficiency. Searing leads and a vocal delivery not unlike yesterday’s The Infernal Sea make this a great kick start to this most unholy of Sabbaths.

Ante Inferno

Yorkshire’s own Blood Countess do a fine line in old school primal black metal for fans of the “true” up in the Ocean Room. In vocalist The Cuntess, they have a formidable stage presence, and her spiteful forceful shrieks definitely strike their target as she forcefully takes aim at the crowd. Powerful stuff that underlines that sometimes the old ways are the best.

Blood Countess

The cloaked force of nature that is Thy Light are next up with their sweeping atmospheric mournful sounding black metal, almost sounding like a black metal My Dying Bride when they slow the pace right down. Majestic leads fill the air in this stately hall and it’s hard not to get swept away in it. Exiting to a sea of horns aloft it seems many were also swept away, simply awesome.

An extended absence as we chatted to some incredible musicians was followed by a chance to grab a heavy as molasses turn from the incredible Abyssal who brought to mind the likes of Portal with their deathly rumble and truly forbidding menace. This is probably a contender for heaviest band of the weekend in terms of heft and almost reminds us of the recent beating we took at the hands of Primitive Man but a blackened version. A change that I’d describe as refreshing if a sound so bleak and oppressive (in all the best ways) could be described as refreshing.

Furia on the main stage are the big surprise, winning over many new converts with their utterly unpredictable brand of ”Nekrofolk,” their almost traditional gypsy feel and shirtless performance is undoubtedly raw and totally blindsides an audience who thought they’d seen it all this weekend.

How do you top that? Gaerea is here to show you how, exploding onstage with an energy we’ve not seen since Converge stormed ArcTanGent last year. The sheer physicality of this twitching beast is just another level of intensity, with cuts from their incredible ‘Mirage’ long player sitting snuggly next to new, call to arms and latest single, ‘World Ablaze’. It is, for us, the performance of the weekend but this is a bone of contention amongst the true black metal contingency as you’d expect. We, like the vast majority loved the flamboyant energetic and crystal-clear shards of fury emanating from the stage and were just floored by the full dedication of a band so clearly on their A Game!


As we sadly had to catch a train home. Blackbraid and Wolves In The Throne Room’s onstage triumphs are the things of legend to us. However, we did interview them both alongside a fine array of black metal masters so watch out for extensive Fortress Festival interviews coming up here at Devolution Magazine and on the DeVlog YouTube channel launching 01st July.

Subscribe to DeVlog –

Review By George Miller

Photos By Acidolka –