How many times do we fall madly in love with an album for its immediate appeal (according to our own personal criteria), then it ends up as nothing more than a pleasant yet distant memory? Well Fen’s sophomore “Epoch” is no such album: after the customary period of early infatuation, it has become a steady part of my life filling up my early morning hours, keeping good company to another slim bunch of albums by my special bedroom stereo. While some works are more suited to night-time listen, allowing you – for example – to release the negative energy accumulated during the daily tasks, “Epoch” seems to work as a booster for the soul, keeping you warm and steady for the rest of the day. Naturally, this is only a personal perspective; nevertheless, rest assured that these 8 tracks will somehow find their own path to your heart.
A connoisseur of exquisitely profound black metal such as that shaped by the likes of Alcest, Negura Bunget, Agalloch and Drudkh, where passion and ethereal, pain and hope, contingent and metaphysical meet seamlessly, will find in Fen a very rich bounty. As all the above bands have a definite style of their own, with “Epoch” Fen confirm, if not enhance, their quintessential Britishness: if you are versed in the glorious rock heritage of good old Albion, they will put you in touch with the emotional darkness of its gothic tradition (Sisters of Mercy, Fields of Nephilim), the melodic and deeply introspective individuality of post-punk bands (The Chameleons, The Cure) and the ambient 4AD marvels (Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins), but also the genius of its clever progressive and psychedelic acts (Genesis, King Crimson, Pink Floyd). If you are not yet familiar with any those, Fen are the perfect opportunity to dig deep into music history, and very aptly so, as the East-Anglians are indeed the ultimate Time travelers both musically and conceptually. But do not fret, the carefully crafted “Epoch” might be molded by rock but is still unequivocally black-metal centered, and the “other” influences (of which some are possibly unconscious) are so deeply engrained into the actuality of Fen’s own sound that you might even miss them while they seamlessly flow into the sonic outpour.
Mesmerizing yet sobering, heart-breaking yet comforting, epic yet deeply human, “Epoch” follows the journey into our soul and its shortcomings which are mirrored in the natural cyclical events of which we are, ultimately, hopeless spectators. The throat-clenching beauty of moments which dot the album like ephemeral portholes into a painful higher state of consciousness, emerge proudly in the wind-swept, emotionally charged lashings of black intensity, becoming eternal echoes inside the labyrinths of the mind. Like with the best albums, “Epoch” is something that must be enjoyed whole to be felt in all its power, and with a firm eye on the superbly crafted, insightful lyrics.
“Of Wilderness and Ruin”, “The Gibbet Elms” and “Half-light Eternal” are amongst the most emotional pieces I have heard EVER and I can’t have enough of them. But be warned: a quick listen on the social networks just won’t do, unless Music doesn’t mean much more to you than a piece of shiny plastic to add to a pointless collection or a badge to pin to your personality-shaping rags.
Release: February 2010
Avantgenre: Meta-Psychological Post Rock/Black Metal
Official site: http://www.myspace.com/fenband
Review online since: 03.04.2011 / 18:01:02
01 – Epoch
02 – Ghost Of The Flood
03 – Of Wilderness And Ruin
04 – The Gibbet Elms
05 – Carrier Of Echoes
06 – Half-Light Eternal
07 – A Waning Solace
08 – Ashbringer