I don’t think anything else would sound equally fitting as a horror flick soundtrack than Nightmare Fortress’s debut album The Wanting. I mean this with the utmost awe for the Seattle quartet’s ability to package such huge soundscape range into a dark pop/electronic record.
Alicia Amiri is like Florence Welch’s gothic sister. Full of alto depth that pairs well with her foreboding lyrics, Amiri’s voice embodies the album’s enticing gloom. “You can’t control what history knows/Disgrace, cover your face/Trying to hide what daylight knows,” she sings on opener “No Exit,” which makes clear that unapologetic exposure is a theme of this album.
The Wanting has strong gothic style with splatters of synth-pop and dance-ready beats, exemplified on “The Perfect Feeling” and “Crawl to Me.” “The Perfect Feeling” gets you amped-up on red lip-stained sassiness and don’t-mess-with-me attitude of which Amiri is a poster child. With the use of heavy organ, think modern-day Phantom of the Opera visits a warehouse party and fits right in. “Crawl to Me,” a dance-rock track, proclaims like an anthem with Amiri’s bold lyrics. Her opening line, “There’s a place where it always rains and when you’re ready to die/Just stand outside, mouth open,” is no doubt deserving of your attention.
The more dungeon-like tracks on the album include “Mourning Star,” which focuses on a man’s decline, and “After Death.” “After Death” builds suspense with a strong repetitive rhythm like the sound of someone stomping down an empty hallway, dramatized condensation dripping from a low ceiling, and then an eerie, escalating choir echo in the background.
Don’t think The Wanting is only meant for those attracted to the darker side, though. The atmospheric mood of “Terminal” and trance qualities of “Crusher” weigh on the opposite end of the spectrum. “Crusher” includes an array of sonic texturing, such as dial-tone synth and bouts of air being pressed and ushered over bass like overworked machinery in an engine room.
“A Life Worth Leaving” is a standout on The Wanting. With a blend of atmospheric guitar, bouncy rhythm, and 80s-esque vocals, it’s a testament to anyone who has ever known they deserved better in any relationship. “Scratching at my door, like a dog, always begging me for more,” Amiri sings, having no problem admitting, “Either way, you’re going to miss me when I’m gone.” Amiri is matter-of-fact, and it’s this cool admittance throughout the record that makes The Wanting so captivating.
Nightmare Fortress’s debut album leaves you strangely refreshed in its bluntness. Between Alicia Amiri’s scarlet-colored vocals and the band’s unique take on darkwave, get ready for something ghostly thrilling. —Rachel Haney