Fen / De Arma “Towards the Shores of the End” (2011)

In the foggy East of England recalcitrant spirits are on the gad these days and they make frivolous trippers cringe: FEN don’t grant themselves a rest after their recently published long-playing album “Epoch”, but they’re up to mischief in the grey marshlands of the fens, more expressive and distressing than before, giving the threatening mists surrounding them perilous forms and impressing with an increased quality in no time. FEN’s sound is still reminiscent of Agalloch, but with the entry of Wodensthrone Æðelwalh on keyboard, especially the second song “Ageless Threnody” wakes memories of the massive “Loss” album of his main band and adds an atmospheric facet that gives the British more artistic autonomy. Moreover Theutus varies his so far too one-dimensional drumming and the whole band generally seems to have written its four songs with new found courage since they’re characterized by stronger stylistic and atmospheric contrasts. Especially mentioned must be the title track “Towards The Shores Of The End” with its dreamlike mixture of post rock / post metal elements, vague hints of (Negura Bunget inspired) ambient black metal and crushing dark metal extremism – one of the most thrilling metal songs I listened to in the last months; I would love to experience this live one day! The beautiful outro “Bereft”, played on piano, acoustic guitars and percussions, wakes hope with its “light” sounds and makes me wonder where these guys will go with their next album.

If you think that DE ARMA starts within a similar cosy and unhurried mood, the project of A (a.o. Armagedda, Lönndom, Whirling) will prove you wrong: the Swede will kidnap you within a minute into a dim no-man’s-land even before you know what happens. “Crimson Waters Ebbing The Shore” sweeps with its pounding drums and hypnotic guitars, not to mention the otherworldly vocals with which the Northman proclaims the eternal darkness. Even more disastrous and unavoidable than FEN sounds this evil spirits’ work, whose central message directly eliminates any lingering doubts: “There is no saviour.” Anybody who can find a home within these sounds will hardly crawl to the cross of the usual sectarian propaganda. The following “Noemata” illustrates with amazing sovereignty why the combination of these two Nordic bands makes perfect sense: DE ARMA ties in with the haunting performance of his English brothers in spirit, goes even one step further in regard of dynamics and with great harmonic vocal arrangements closes the gap on Alcest. The deep into the dark underground reaching roots of DE ARMA are exposed at the beginning of “From Horizon To Oblivion” with almost mangy vocals, which is the only detail that waters the excellent overall impression of this vehement debut a bit down. Thanks to the moor spirits, the title of this split CD isn’t meant to hint at future releases – it would be simply too bad, if these bands disappeared without further ado…

This is a slightly improved translation of a review which appears in the German Legacy Magazine #71.

-Thor Joakimsson


Release:  February 2011
Label:  Nordvis
Avantgenre:  Grim & Fog Ridden Metal Music
Duration:  52:27
Origin:  Fens (UK) & Norrländ (Swe)
Official site:  http://www.nordvis.com
Review online since:  23.02.2011 / 08:24:55


01 – Soilbound
02 – Ageless Thenody
03 – Towards The Shores Of The End
04 – Bereft (Acoustic Reprise)
05 – Crimson Waters Ebbing The Shore
06 – Noemata
07 – From Horizon To Oblivion

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