Forté - Unholy War (Tribunal Records)
By: Mike Sloan
[8/10] Having been missing in action for almost 15 years, Forté has been a long-forgotten band to the vast majority of the metal world. Though they’ve have always had a very small cult following, it was never close to the size or magnitude of bands like Possessed or Terrorizer or even Fester (we think even Forced Entry had a larger following than Forté). And for good reason because though Forté was always a solid thrash band, they never had enough going for them to truly stand out ahead of the pack or make any sort of dynamic impression on the masses. They were good and that’s about it.
However, with Unholy War, an album that comes completely out of nowhere, Forté might have pulled off one of the biggest comeback albums in recent memory. From start to finish, the energy and intensity on Unholy War is something short of remarkable. The album is vintage Forté and though the songs all blend together under the thrash umbrella, each song has its own identity and has enough strength to stand on its own feet without stumbling, and this includes the rather simple quasi-ballad “Undying.”
The guitars are powerful and searing and because Jeff Scott never tries to get too cute in terms of finesse or technical prowess, his almost simple execution works exceptionally well. Forté has kept their formula of making actual songs with a pop mentality of verse-chorus-verse, which gives the nine proper songs (ten including the intro) even more meat to them. With a hefty production that has thankfully retained the vigor and bite to the sound, this is an easy album to digest and just let loose.
Anybody who enjoys the sounds of Flotsam and Jetsam, Vicious Rumors, Death Angel (at times) and Exodus (with some of the riff structures) should definitely check out Unholy War because this one is right up said listener’s alley. The songs are catchy and very well constructed. The absolute highlight of the album is the crushing and über infectious “Stronger Than Death” but other gems include “Dead to Me” and “Absolute Power.”
All in all, this record probably should have been called Arturo Gatti because this is one hell of a comeback. Like the late, great boxer, Forté was counted out and figured to be finished for good, yet they somehow regrouped, landed a vicious left hook and scored the knockout. Forté’s last released an album in 1999; here’s hoping they don’t wait as long to unleash the follow-up to Unholy War. This proves that there is more to Oklahoma than endless dirt and steer skulls on the side of the road.