FORTÉ – Stranger Than Fiction

FORTÉ - Stranger Than Fiction
  • 8.7/10
    FORTÉ - Stranger Than Fiction - 8.7/10


Divebomb Records
Release date: March 13, 2020


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Divebomb Records has re-released Forté’s debut album Stranger Than Fiction, first released in 1992, the year after Nirvana’s Nevermind . The false but popular narrative has Nevermind sounding the death knell of Heavy Metal, an odd claim since Nirvana’s record was ultimately outsold by the self-titled Metallica album released in the same year. Regardless, the rise of Grunge and Alternative music, coupled with certain social and economic factors intersected to make it difficult for bands like Forté to break through to a wider audience no matter how good their songs were.

And Forté’s songs are very, very good. The album launches with the headlong rush of “Coming Of The Storm”, where guitarist Jeff Scott alternately flies and shreds his way through a song displaying as much sonic variety in its three minutes and eleven seconds as do many contemporaries’ entire albums. Combining elements of Speed, Thrash, and Traditional Metal, as well as what will be termed Power Metal, Forté’s sound is not easily analogous to that of any other band, though there are flashes of bands like Agent Steel, Machinery, and Helstar.

Vocalist James Randal has a powerful clean delivery and wide range, able to hit the air-raid notes in sync with Jeff Scott’s shell bursts. Bassist Ghames “Rev” Jones has a very interesting style; check out his work on the intro to “The Inner Circle”; other songs have him alternating his swift finger plucking with some slap-bass action. His interesting fretwork blends seamlessly with drummer Greg Scott’s machine gun assaults, girding the solid foundation Scott lays down with rhythmic nuance. Sadly, Greg Scott passed away last year; the rest of the band proceeded with the re-release to honor his memory.

With the exception of “G-13 (Devoid Of Thought)”, a short instrumental, all the tracks on Stranger Than Fiction burn with rapid intensity. Original album closer “The Promise” has the band drifting into early Fates Warning/Dream Theater (bands Forté opened for in the early nineties); the re-release includes two Thrashy bonus tracks “Dementia By Design” from the Metal Massacre XI compilation, and an earlier version of “Digitator” from the Molten Metal Monsters Vol. 1 compilation.

The folks at Divebomb Records have also compiled the rest of Forté’s output of the 1990’s with their Invictus release, which includes their albums Division, Destructive, and Rise Above. Stranger Than Fiction is a critical addition to any Thrash/Speed Metal collection; Invictus can help with a full-immersion experience for listeners who missed Forté the first time around.


  • Daniel Waters

    Daniel was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. Iron Maiden’s Piece Of Mind wasn’t the first Metal album he owned, but it was the one that lifted the lid off his soul when he received the record as a gift on his 15th birthday. He's been a Metal fan ever since. He's probably best known as the author of various Young Adult novels such as the Generation Dead series and the ghost story Break My Heart 1,000 Times, now also a major motion picture entitled I Still See You, starring Bella Thorne. Writing and music, especially Heavy Metal music, has always been inextricably linked in his mind and career. His first paid gig doing any type of writing was for Cemetery Dance, where he wrote a horror-themed music column called Dead Beats, and when he was writing the first Generation Dead novel he had a ritual where he started his writing day with a Metal playlist that kicked off with “Crushing Belial” by Shadows Fall.

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1 Comment

  1. Forte Stranger than fiction is, in my opinion, truly one of the most under rated metal albums of the ’90s. It has elements of progressive/technical, thrash and power metal and shows a band that clearly had a lot of talent. Personally, I like the vocals better than most thrash bands out there either in the ’80s, 90’s or even today. The songs themselves are for the most part very catchy and not long-winded as some metal songs tend to get. Just If you like this album another great album that didn’t get it’s due was By Inheritance by the band Artillery also released in the ’90s. You might also like Mekong Delta or Watchtower, both of which were pioneers in early experimentation of combining thrash metal with progressive metal.

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