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FEN - Epoch" - reviews

Discussion in 'code666' started by Emi, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    post here
     
  2. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.cackblabbath.co.uk/2010/12/02/fen-epoch/

    They Say :- Fusing elements of post-rock, ambient soundscapes and gentle acoustic passages alongside raging black metal fury, “Epoch” is an expression of loss, isolation and hopelessness, a timeless despair that has resonated throughout the history of human experience. This new album draws the listener into a windswept and desolate landscape, bereft of hope.

    We say :- They’re a cheery bunch then, this Fen lot, music steeped in some mythical lore or other played by people who go under the stage names of Æðelwalh (Synths and backing vocals), Theutus (Drums), The Watcher (Vocals and guitars) and Grungyn (Bass and backing vocals).

    The band traces it’s roots back to early 2006 when Grungyn, Theutus and The Watcher came together to form a musical project inspired by “the bleak, esoteric landscapes of Eastern England”. Fen describe what they do as ‘Post Black Metal’ and it’s a blend of various elements of Black Metal, Progressive Rock, Ambient and Post-Rock. It’s certainly an interesting mix which reminds me most strongly of the latest incarnation of Romanian band (and Code 666 labelmates) Negura Bunget, albeit without quite the same level of overt folk influences.

    There is an impressive variety in the music Fen produce. In places it is gentle and atmospheric, in others it is thunderous furious sounding Black Metal and the balance between the two styles makes Epoch a fascinating listening experience. When they want to the band can really turn on the melody, there are passages in “The Gibbet Elms” and “A Waning Solace” that really showcase a softer and lighter side to Fen that only serves to make the darkness, when it returns, more enveloping.

    I guess the word that best sums up the soundscape that Fen weave is ‘brooding’. There is a quality to their music evoking a barren, bleak landscape and a time where ageless things stirred in deep forests.

    When Fen’s previous album, The Malediction Fields, came out the band were heralded as “a UK rival to the throne of bands like Enslaved and Primordial”. With Epoch Fen have certainly lived up to that high praise and delivered on the promise shown by their previous release. It’s out next February and will surely feature in several top 2o lists at the end of 2011.
     
  3. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://cosmosgaming.com/articles.php?id=2994&articletype=review

    Music: Fen: Epoch

    Our Take

    England’s Fen made quite an impression on listeners when they released their debut full length The Malediction Fields in early 2009. The group drew comparisons to Agalloch and Negura Bunget but leaned more towards the post rock side of the experimental black metal spectrum. Two years later the band has returned with their sophomore effort Epoch and shows Fen using even more melody than before. It works quite well, and creates a sound that can be beautiful one moment and terrifying the next.

    When compared to their debut, the songs on Epoch seem to have slightly cleaner production values and everything is a lot less muddy than before. All of the instrumentals are now easy to hear and the drums in particular have been brought forward quite a bit which ups the energy of the material and enhances the faster parts. Another thing that Fen has done is included even more post rock influenced melody in their songs, resulting in some truly beautiful moments. It seems strange to describe anything black metal as beautiful, but I can’t think of a better word to describe songs such as “The Gibbet Elms” and “A Waning Solace”. And yet, at the same time there are some other tracks that reinforce the dark and foreboding nature that the genre is typically known for. The songs stand out quite a bit, and Fen really seems to be heading in a direction that is different from the bands they have been compared to in the past.



    The vocals are a mixture of harsh screams and very light clean singing, and this is very similar to what Fen offered on The Malediction Fields. The group received some criticism for the clean singing on that album as many felt that it was pretty weak and sometimes went out of tune. On Epoch this has been addressed and the singing now feels a lot stronger than before. Although it still seems as though shrieking appears a little more frequently, there is a better balance between the two styles and the vocals as a whole have improved quite a bit.



    Epoch is a stunning album that finds Fen adding even more melody into their sound than before. It’s amazing that after only two full lengths these guys are already at a higher level than many of the other experimental black metal acts out there as their combination of post rock influenced melodies and harsh riffs is wonderful. Code666 will be releasing this album in early February, and it is one of the first must haves of 2011.



    http://www.code666.net

    Chris Dahlberg

    December 10, 2010
     
  4. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.trebuchet-magazine.com/index.php/site/article/fen_-_epoch/

    Shouted whispers across a hunter’s field. Epoch is the third release for this English quartet which owes as much to Alan Moore as it does to King Crimson. This is a great release from a band we’ll hear a lot more from and so for this review let’s follow the tracks deep into the Fen.
    [​IMG]
    Epoch:Sprawling, My Bloody Valentine atmosphere with almost whimsically This Mortal Coil touches, shimmering chords under raging drums, thoroughly and deliciously Twin Peaks noir. Great opener, is this an album or a gig? Who cares I’m absolutely along for the ride.
    Ghost of the flood:
    Intense, blast of metal noise with a melancholy air, bolstered by real songcraft. Every chord change seems to go down yet in an archly optimistic way. The vocals contain laudable elements of California era Mr Bungle and complemented by poignant and understated Pavement-esque guitar lines.
    Try to ignore the growled vocals, if left out... the music itself has a Muse-like soaring pop quality.
    Despite having sort of elements of balladry the song avoids the traps of American contemporary metal softies by avoiding sounding whiney. This is formed adult emotion, not a 30-something revised history of teenage malady.
    ‘Someday rains will come again’ is wistful and nice but musically the song is too good to be wasted on atmospheric impressionistic lyrics. Being more direct thematically would lift the band into the next level of artists, who aren’t merely great but important.
    The Gibbet Elms:
    Beautifully complex drumming and interlocking bass and guitar lines are fantastic worked here. I keep coming back to the drums... the washes of guitars and keyboards somewhat obfuscate the crisp beats and tasty bass playing on this track. Really wonderfully prog, chordally more Yes than Crimson... but in a good way.
    Distortions and washes of sound really mask something fantastic going on musically. Band embarrassment? Makes you wonder about the nom-de-plums (Aedelwalh, Theutus, The Watcher, Grungyn), are Craigs, Brians, Duncans and Steves not able to make this sort of music? Probably a legacy thing from earlier bands.
    Vocals come into their own around 5.38 – Yeah! why doesn’t he shout-sing like this more often, it is genius and fits perfectly.
    Final analysis: this track kicks ass.
    Of Wilderness and Ruin:
    A cathartic release, once again fantastic drums, they sound great punchy and awesome, backing vocals very Neurosis-esque. In fact the whole track takes a number of nods from the great band. Destined to be a huge huge track live.
    Of Half-light Eternal:
    Okay so this is almost too Showgaze, one expects the 4ad record contract to be forthcoming any second. Wait a minute. What’s happening here. Enter extreme gear change coming up? Slowly threatens to be a real church burner and then torches the village.
    Carriers of Echoes:
    Okay, so tapping into Red Hot Chilli Peppers proto-funk basslines maybe wasn’t the best idea. Weakest track on the album so far. The hell for leather central rock out premise, sounding a little done by this stage but is given a unique treatment here with the medieval BVs, reminiscent of Happy Mondays Hallelujah. Track goes into a nice syncopated bit but falls short a little bit, overshadowed by better tracks. Guitar solo was nicely done, could have been cleaner sounding though.
    A Waning Solace:
    The bass sound needs to be deeper, way too trebly and the guitar sound is a bit annoying. A touch of home stereo EQing fixes the issue, but the Fender Precision Duff McKagan era Gunners sound is a bit cloying. Similarly, the guitar effect could have used less tremolo and more chorus, perhaps with a bit of Q-tron, especially since they’re going for a sort of disorientating Tool-esque mystical vibe. Not really feeling this one. Am starting to think that the drummer is the star of this album, his playing ain’t flashy but has a sort of subtle texturing and post-fugazi kiltered groove that works quite cleverly. The singer really gives it some, he ain’t faking it that’s for sure.
    I can’t help but feel that this is a really happy bunch of guys... despite the emotional content of their music. These are guys that really love playing music and each other. There is a palpable sense of Bon Homie to this track, it’s like sitting next to table of pissed up long hairs and hearing the three day bender end: ‘I love you, you fucker’. Of course, that could be the mix, cuddly but accurate. Okay, the Death Vangelis keyboard sound is officially getting on my tits.
    Ashbringer:
    Now that is the way to start a track. I have to hear that again, much much louder. Hells yes this is how you end an album and probably the pre-encore set. They have really got it down on this one. After listening to album as a whole a couple of things stand out, I wish in places not everyone played all the time, the keyboard might be better utilised playing tuned field samples or something similarly experimentally unique in parts. The noise drenched guitar sound while awesome in places hides the tonal variations in favour of a sort of wash, which becomes a touch samey. But this is nitpicking against what is overall a release both confident and convincing. A solid album by a band that sounds like they can kill it live. Recommended.
     
  5. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.myrrthronth.de/reviews.php?review=906


    "Fusing elements of post-rock [...]"
    Und schon wieder: Die Post ist da! Nun ja, immerhin haben Fen damit nicht erst gestern angefangen, und ausserdem hat mir das letzte Album eigentlich ziemlich gut gefallen, Briefträger her oder hin. Vorfreude will ich mir trotzdem verkneifen, schlapp machen nämlich alle mal, die meisten früher, einige wenige erst später.
    Fen gehören leider zur ersten Gruppe; diesen Schluss legt zumindest das neue Scheibchen "Epoch" nahe. War Post auf dem Vorgängeralbum noch Beigabe und Gestaltungselement, so ist jetzt das Schwarzmetallische in diese Rolle geraten: Jenseits von relativ schepperigen Klanglandschaften und Gekrächze bietet "Epoch" in erster Linie etwas, was Post Rock sein muss, für einen Dilettanten wie mich aber auch als eine Depriversion von Britpop durchgehen würde. Black Metal gibt es bis auf genannte Oberflächlichkeiten viel weniger als noch auf "The Malediction Fields", und was geboten wird, erreicht auch nicht mehr frühere Klasse, sondern wirkt mitunter eher gezwungen als zwingend. In diesem Sinne ist die Entwicklung hin zu mehr Gelb nur logisch: Wenn man keinen ordentlichen Metal mehr hinkriegt, widmet man sich eben anderen Dingen. Was mich etwas stört, ist das Festhalten an Optik und Klangästhetik der eigenen Vergangenheit, obwohl diese Elemente nicht mehr zur musikalischen Gegenwart passen. Das hat etwas von Etikettenschwindel, den - und das fügt sich dann wieder gut ins Bild ein - aber auch die Plattenfirma betreibt, wenn sie "Epoch" ans Metallervolk verkaufen will. An dieser Stelle würde ich gerne sagen können, dass das metallische Publikum auf solche Tricks nicht reinfällt, aber das wäre Unsinn: Wir sind genauso leicht zu bescheissen wie alle Anderen auch. Und so ein Schaf im Wolfspelz ist doch nun wirklich sehr verführerisch. Ich finde es jedenfalls nur allzu verständlich, dass sich jemand mit der "krassen" Ästhetik des BM schmücken will, ohne den ollen Krach ertragen zu müssen.
    Nach so viel Anmassung und Vorurteil muss ich natürlich eingestehen, dass ich nicht unbedingt die Idealbesetzung bin, um "Epoch" auch nur halbwegs objektiv zu bewerten. Nicht nur, dass ich diesen ganzen Aufweichungserscheinungen (die ich eben nicht für Weiterentwicklung im eigentlichen Sinne halte) skeptisch gegenüber stehe, auch habe ich von Rock, egal ob mit oder ohne Post, wenig bis keine Ahnung. Doch da ich sowieso schon jede Menge voreingenommenes Zeug geschrieben habe, kann ich mich ruhig noch ein bisschen weiter aus dem Fenster lehnen und festhalten, dass ich Fens neuesten Versuch noch nicht mal für ein sonderlich gelungenes Rockalbum halte. Den Stücken fehlt es an Dynamik und Dramatik, die BM-Reste wollen nicht so recht zünden, grosse Ideen und Melodien habe ich nicht gefunden, wirklich atmosphärisch ist das Ganze auch nicht unbedingt... kurz: Man schwankt zwischen deplazierter Härte und flauschiger Harmlosigkeit, und zumindest ich kann damit nur wenig anfangen.
    Sicher, "Epoch" ist nicht ganz so katastrophal, wie diese Zeilen klingen. Sie sind viel eher in Relation zum letzten Album zu verstehen, welches ich wirklich mochte. Fen haben es nämlich auf einen Schlag geschafft, sich aus meinem Interessenbereich herauszumusizieren. Gut möglich, dass das Album trotzdem seine Freunde findet. Sehr wahrscheinlich sogar, derlei Töne verkaufen sich ja offensichtlich wie geschnitten Brot. Ich persönlich werde mich jedoch dieser Modeerscheinung solange verweigern, bis es einen wirklich triftigen Grund gibt, auf den Zug aufzuspringen. "Epoch" ist kein solcher Grund.
     
  6. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.kogaionon.com/en/kogaionon-reviews/fende-arma-split-2011

    FEN is an underground Black Metal band which pleasantly impressed with their present 2 materials. At least 2009's album, "The Malediction Fields", was very well received by the musical press. This Winter, FEN appears on the market with 2 different releases, this split and the new album, "Epoch". Because I listened both, I can also draw comparisons between both materials' songs and make references to the older ones. Well, the British quartet appeals to me more and more, meaning that the experimental influences completely take out the band from the Black Metal cliche, applied by thousands of bands. The acoustic elements, ambiental passages and also Post-Rock rhythms perfectly fit the angry voices.
    [​IMG]
    The beginning of the song "Ageless Thenody" reminds me of PRIMORDIAL, at least how the drums sound... but immediatly, the angry voice blends with a cosmic keyboard, very atmospheric and abundant, making place for a melancholic, calm and dreamy rhythm. "Towards The Shores Of The End" begins with clear Post-Rock chords and a long intro that throws you into a weird state of complete anxiety. The Watcher's voice mysteriously and discreetly envelops us, the guitars continue their excellent melodic series, the clean voices appear in the background... and the keyboard insists upon the ambiental phases, making out of the song a beautiful avantgardist jewel. "Bereft" is an acoustic reprise that can be harder to assimilate because only the piano and the guitars decorate the sound, a rather dry one. "Soilbound" is the song that resembles the "Epoch's" direction, and I could say it would have fit there better.
    [​IMG]
    The songs from the split are more experimental than everything the musicians have done so far, and changing the keyboardist matches perfectly what FEN makes now ! I don't know if they are better than the previous ones, from virtuosity's point of view, but it's clear they are more varied, diverse as compositional structure, and that makes me appreciate much these exponents of atmospheric Black Metal, full of Ambient and Progressive Rock phases. Even though they come from the new wave, the Brits show us they are very open-minded when it comes to musical influences and they succeed to smartly implement songs that are going to be talk of the town later on, if Black Metal will follow this path. DE ARMA is a new Swedish project which sets out now with 3 songs, not a bit to neglect. Somehow linked to FEN's music, DE ARMA sounds good, but goes unnoticed, maybe the song "Noemata", on which The Watcher's voice is slightly distinguished. One on another, a band with an atmpospheric Black Metal sound, with much keyboard, a pronounced melodic rhythm and that's it.
     
  7. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.archaic-magazine.com/article.php?aid=46600

    From the fecund Malediction Fields a new golden crop of eight magnificent tracks has just ripened, fragrant with serious talent and seducing Britishness. Fen’s sophomore, “Epoch”, is ready to be picked and consumed with relish by those who were captivated by their sound in early 2009, but during these long gestation months a lot has happened in East Anglia. We find quite a lot of improvement throughout, starting with a less muddy production which makes it easier to catch the intricacies interwoven within the breathlessly fast instrumental parts. The singing, which was wanting in the previous full-lenght, has also improved allowing full enjoyment of the melodies. And on this album we have such an abundance of truly wonderful melodies that will make any lover of Agalloch, Alcest and the likes rejoice in delight! While the black metal is still whirlwind-like and immersed in the darkest of chaos-realms, we have a plethora of influences taking root into its every crevice, shaping up an organic creature of alien splendor. The title-track welcomes the listener in the form of a near-instrumental bearing the hallmarks of the moodiest of British post-punk tradition, a trend that follows across the album: the spirit noir of the legendary 4AD sound (Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins) is alive and very much at home within the desolate kind of black metal Fen nurture. Taking inspiration from barren landscapes, unforgiving natural conditions and bleak emotions of loss and yearning is nothing new under “the moon”, of course, but the guys have a wealth of indigenous musical traditions to take on board and explore. Another clear lesson comes from British prog rock and this album displays some wonderful moments tinged with King Crimson, Yes or very early Genesis magnificence. “The Gibbet Elms”, an example of the band’s modern approach to prog, is easily one of the best tracks of the album. Fen’s creative rhythm section deserves a particular mention, since both bass and drums deliver interesting and complex work throughout, while guitar and keyboards sometimes are still whitewashed by the intensity self-generated by these four enthusiastic musicians. This excellent album is not yet perfection, but Fen are making giant strides towards something truly worthwhile. Whether it is the enchanting shoegaze singing in “A Waning Solace” and the gorgeous “Half-light Eternal”, or the spellbinding near-psychedelic journey of “Ashbringer”, Fen’s new effort is drenched in such romantic passion that the grayness of desolation has never been closer to becoming a warm, blinding light.
     
  8. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.pavillon666.fr/chronique-metal-5568.php

    8/10

    EPOCH est une invitation au voyage, un voyage céleste dans une nuit noire constellée d’étoiles.
    On croirait entendre Anathema qui aurait avalé du black métal et du folk ; comme une sorte de Dark-Pink-Floyd-Black !!! Indéfinissable !
    En effet, FEN est un groupe british comme les sus nommés, très riche et varié, officiant dans un métal atmosphérique, teinté de folk, de black et nimbé de rock progressif.
    Tour à tour les ambiances s’enchaînent, on passe de Tool à Enslaved en un rien de temps et c’est magnifique !
    Qui plus est, l’opus est d’une agréable longueur en ces temps mesquins et frileux de l’industrie musicale où tout n’est que récession ; plus d’une heure dix au compteur ça fait plaisir à l’auditeur-acheteur qui pour une fois n’est pas pris pour une vache à lait sans intérêt !
    Les compos sont sophistiquées, élaborées et complexes, le son est impeccable, tout est aérien et planant, tous les instruments battent le même rythme cardiaque ensemble, une pulsation homogène se dégage, la symbiose est totale, l’harmonie complète !
    Nous sommes bien loin d’une agression radicale et crue ; on navigue entre un certain BM moderne et le rock progressif cher à nos années 80.
    Opeth on fait de même avec le death-metal ; une musique ouverte et extrême mais faite de multiples éléments.
    FEN combine à merveille toutes ses influences pour en faire une pure création originale, intéressante et émotionnelle.
     
  9. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://cosucce.blogspot.com/2011/01/fen-epoch.html

    Excellent band from UK, Fen is one of those you can always count on if you are seeking high quality, aggressive and atmospheric parts in the same song and in general a foggy gloomy landscape to move into, just like The Fens, which is the particular area of Great Britain the band members come from. The debut album 'The Malediction Fields' has been a really blaze in the sky, showing a band that pointed to mid-period Katatonia or early Agalloch for inspiration, but that could easily walk on their own feet then.
    Now we have the new 'Epoch', again released by Code666 and again we are pleased to find the same, majestic, quality.
    Post-rock, ambient, acoustic melodies and primitive BM fury are the recipes for every Fen's album so far, although the new one sounds pretty darker and more mature than the previous. The imaginary landscape the band tries to paint into listener minds is flat, swampy, desolate and grey. Perhaps not really innovative, but sure excellent in what they do, that's a good point.
    'Epoch' is a collection of songs that you can easily listen to time after time and you will never feel dissatisfied. This is one of the biggest achievements a band can reach. Fen have already scored it at their second album. Bow down.
     
  10. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    METALREVIEW.COM

    9,6/10 !! :D

    I thought I’d try to coincide this review with the review of Mitochondrion’s massive Parasignosis, in part because they will both more than likely end up on my 2011 year-end list (unless they both succumb to the curse of the early release), but also because they are so drastically different. Oh, and also to annoy you readers that bitched about Agalloch’s Marrow of the Spirit being the Metal Review album of the year in 2010.

    Those that heard and enjoyed 2009's Malediction Fields from these UK fenny (people from the fens might enjoy that term of endearment) metalheads will of course note that Fen culled deeply from the organic, vaguely post-rock-imbued grey metal played by Agalloch, Ironwood, Castevet, Wolves in the Throne Room and Bergtatt-era Ulver, and that has changed little on the band's second effort, Epoch.

    So now that the Agalloch haters have left, it’s obvious from Epoch, that Fen is in fact the UK's answer to Agalloch. They're not as pagan or Heraldic as country mates Winterfylleth or Wodensthrone (who share their keyboard player with Fen), but they are a typically multi-hued affair mixing somber acoustics and atmospherics with rangy, jangly bursts of black metal complete with distant rasps and suitably moody clean vocals.

    Call it pretentious, artistic, or even argue if its black metal, but regardless, Epoch easily hovers around the brilliance of Marrow of the Spirit, and thusly is equally divisive. Each of the 8 lengthy songs (6 -11 minutes) ebb and flow with an often languid tapestry of melancholy acoustics and a croon often broken up by damp black metal riffs and shrieks. It’s not about catchy riffs or sing-along choruses or even songs -- Epoch is about mood and atmosphere. It’s about a musical, organic link with nature, an internal oneness derived through another’s art. Though less frosty than Marrow of the Spirit, but mistier, the similarities are obvious: after mood setter “Epoch”, simply check “Ghost of the Fog” which unexpectedly explodes much like “Into the Painted Grey”. From there, the album is a magnificent journey that treads lightly but firmly. “The Gibbets Elms” is a wispy, willowy affair with some nice vocal interplay that never peaks despite the promise of doing so. “Of Wilderness and Ruin” starts with some surprisingly deep harsh vocals and spoken words before a long-overdue black metal tangent -- a very impressive one to boot, but it's par for the course, being short-lived as a more shimmery mid-paced throng closes the track.

    By now, chances are, you are or are not sold on the album, so describing the next four tracks, which essentially follow the same template is relatively moot and a strain on my already numb fingers. But be aware -- there is a little more black metal in the album's latter half. Still, you’ll either find it dreary or enthralling -- not enough metal or not enough ambiance. For me, the balance on each track is perfect, as demonstrated on the remaining tracks like the beautiful standout “Half Light Eternal” and Smiths/Cure strains of “Carrier of Echoes” and epic closer “Ashbringer”.

    I’m still not a huge fan of the clean vocals, which was my only real gripe with Marrow of the Spirit, but as in that case, they fit into the entirety of the whole record. And the synths are sometimes a bit too …symphonic and peppy. I feel they would have better presented far more understated, if at all. But with improved drumming and production and such wonderfully evocative songwriting, those are minimal gripes on what is a sure-fire Top 10 of 2011 contender.

    The funny thing is -- and this really isn’t music related, but more of a musing: As someone who grew up in the fens of East Anglia, a band called Fen playing such beautiful and artistic music is something of an oxymoron, as I remember the fens being a drab, flat rural shithole full of inbred people with terrible indecipherable dialects. It’s hardly the majestic, mysterious landscapes that Fen supposedly culls as the influence with their music. Luckily, Fen hardly invoke the town of Chatteris and its inhabitants.
     
  11. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.wingsofdeath.nu/content/36,11171/Fen - Epoch

    Fen is een nog relatief jonge band, opgericht in 2006, afkomstig uit het Verenigd Koninkrijk. De band heeft zich vernoemd naar de regio waar de leden opgegroeid zijn: The Fens. Dit enigszins desolate gebied vormt tevens een grote inspiratiebron voor teksten en muziek van de band. Het vlakke mysterieuze landschap met zijn waterrijke onderbrekingen schijnt behoorlijk tot de verbeelding te spreken. Dat dit niet tot de meest vrolijke muzikale taferelen leidt mag dan duidelijk zijn. Het leidde voor Fen tot nu toe in elk geval tot 2 EP's en een goed ontvangen full length debuut in 2009. Twee jaar daarna, januari 2011 schrijven we inmiddels, is het dan tijd voor de tweede langspeler Epoch.

    Wat Fen grofweg te bieden heeft is een mengelmoes van enerzijds primitieve black metal, post black metal en invloeden uit de postrock; anderzijds vinden we meer relaxte akoestische passages en ambient soundscapes. Wat Epoch dan ook het meest interessant maakt is de bijna constant aanwezige spanningsboog tussen deze twee schijnbare uitersten. De kunst is dan om deze muziekvormen te verpakken in songs, en daar slaagt Fen behoorlijk in. Opener, tevens titelnummer Epoch maakt dat eigenlijk meteen duidelijk. Het nummer begint voorzichtig met een akoestische, sfeervolle passage om dan geleidelijk over te gaan naar traditioneel hees black metal gekrijs.

    Het navolgende Ghost of the Flood doet het precies andersom: uit de startblokken schieten door middel van een (post) black metal geluidseruptie, en dat laten volgen door een hele subtiele passage met min of meer cleane zang. Zo golft dit nummer telkens op en neer tussen de diverse muzikale gezichten van Fen, dat op deze manier de variatie er wel redelijk in weet te houden. Hoewel dit voor de nummers afzonderlijk prima werkt, vind ik dit voor een hele cd lang toch wat te weinig. Ik betrap mezelf er op dat ik af en toe het idee heb dat ik naar een herhalingsoefening zit te luisteren, hetzelfde trucje wordt telkens herhaald als het ware.

    Over het geheel weet Epoch mij dus niet de hele cd lang te boeien, ondanks dat de nummers afzonderlijk prima te beluisteren zijn. Fen is er ook goed in geslaagd om een bepaalde sfeer op te roepen met hun muziek. Ik kan me bijna een voorstelling van maken hoe het landschap waar de heren vandaan komen er uit moet zien. Epoch klinkt als een uitdrukking van verlies, isolatie en uitzichtloosheid, een tijdloze wanhoop die zijn weerklank vindt in het winderige en desolate landschap, ontdaan van hoop. Vooral de laatste tonen van afsluiter Ashbringer gaan door merg en been. Kortom: weinig vrolijkheid dus.
     
  12. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.snoozecontrol.be/control/index.php/reviews/38-buitenlandse-reviews/673-fen-epoch

    Om eerlijk te zijn had ik nog nooit eerder van deze groep gehoord. Na enig opzoekwerk kwam ik te weten dat Fen is ontstaan in het jaar 2006 en afkomstig is uit het Verenigd Koninkrijk. De naam van de groep is afkomstig naar de locatie waar de leden zijn opgegroeid "The Fens". Volgens omstanders zou hun leefgebied tevens een inspiratiebron zijn voor hun teksten. Fen heeft alreeds 2 EP’s en een full lenght debuut album (2009) op hun palmares staan wat mij doet concluderen dat dit album niet al te veel fouten meer zou mogen bevatten. In februari van dit jaar releaset de groep hun 2de album “Epoch”.
    Fen brengt blackmetal in combinatie met postrock. Een niet alledaagse combinatie maar door deze 2 componenten samen te brengen ontstaan er rustige akoestische passages doorgaans het album. Dit is één van de kwaliteiten die dit album te bieden heeft aan zijn luisteraars. Maar hoe brengt men daar een gepaste zang op aan? Dat is een taak voor de zanger van de band.
    Wanneer ik de opener beluister en mijn aandacht focus op de zang dan ontdekt ik dat hij ervoor gezorgd heeft dat zijn black metal geschreeuw niet de bovenhand neemt maar goed aansluit op de af en toe kalmere momenten in het album.

    Doch is dit niet zo bij alle nummers. Lied nummer 2 zorgt ervoor dat we de black metal echt gewaar worden en geeft ons amper te tijd om te bekoelen. De kalme passage vervaagt dan ook in zijn subtiliteit.
    Als ik een conclusie mag trekken over het album dan vindt ik dat de groep een geslaagde combinatie teweegbrengt tussen enerzijds de black metal en anderzijds de post rock. De groep heeft gezorgd om een sfeer te creëren tussen bepaalde elementen. Doch is het uitluisteren van het volledige album op die manier een hele opgave voor de niet doorwinterde fans van Fen.
     
  13. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.pushtofire.com/musicreviews.html#article427

    Fen - Epoch
    Reviewed by Emma Dean

    Very few bands have the ability to make you see things in their music, to make you imagine exactly what they were thinking and play it out in your head as you listen along with the album. Post-black metallists Fen are one of those bands.
    Making waves in the Europe black metal scene, Epoch is Fen's second album after their critically acclaimed first album The Malediction Fields in 2009. Signing a multiple record deal with Italian cult label code666, Fen have continued their themes of loss, sorrow and ancient national pride in Epoch.
    Inspired by the wilderness of Eastern England, the album paints a picture of utter desolation in a sweeping landscape. Opening track 'Epoch' slowly draws you into a world of bleak imagery and absolute hopelessness. This beautiful yet depressing instrumental wouldn't be out of place in a film soundtrack, and is an epic starter for the concept that is carried perfectly throughout the album.
    As you listen you can picture a solitary figure standing alone in the bleak moors of England, troubled and alone as they continue their journey to nowhere.
    Unlike other contemporary post-black metal bands, Fen's take on the genre is almost ambient, incorporating several styles of progressive rock and metal. The music isn't thundering along at a million miles an hour with grating guitar distortion and deafening bass. Instead it flows naturally into a sort of heavy lounge music, complemented by the growling vocals of singer The Watcher.
    Stand out tracks are 'Of Wilderness and Ruin', 'Half-light Eternal' and 'Ashbringer'.
    A beautiful album from a band who are exceeding themselves as they continue to grow musically, and if this is the future of post-black metal then I can't wait to see what they come up with next.
    Epoch will be available February 2011.
    8.5/10
     
  14. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.metalblaze.at/zine/?p=11685

    Fen bringen mit “Epoch” ein durchaus ambitioniertes Werk (ihr zweites Full-Length-Album) unters Volk, welches ein bisschen den Geist von Bands wie Wolfes In The Throne Room atmet: im Black Metal verwurzelt, aber mit einer progressiven Note angereichert und in eine dichte und rohe Produktion gekleidet.

    Was mit “Epoch” als guter Einstimmung in den Klangkosmos der Briten beginnt, nimmt mit “Ghost Of The Flood” und “Of Wilderness And Ruin” wahrlich große Fahrt auf. Der Black Metal rast durch die Pampe mit einer Vehemenz, die nie Selbstzweck ist und genausowenig die Melodien außen vor lässt. Dieser Black Metal ist roh, aber nie flach und immer mit Seele.

    Die CD hat bei aller Klasse zwei Probleme. Die Nähe zu den eingangs erwähnten Wolfes In The Throne Room kratzt ein wenig an der Originalität der Truppe, wenngleich die Briten traditionell prog-rockiger und mit mehr Klargesang arbeiten. Das zweite Problem ist schwerwiegeneder: die Songs sind allesamt recht homogen, was dem Album sicherlich auch eine gewisse amtmosphärische Einheit verleiht.

    Als toleranter Hörer von Black Metal darf man sich diesen Kritikpunkten zu trotz von den Kompositionen einlullen lassen!
     
  15. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.metalreviews.com/reviews/detail.php3?id=6899

    88/100

    Fen’s debut was a tricky album; looking back now, I feel I overrated it slightly. It was a promising record that mused on the English countryside of the band’s name, using a brooding and ‘post’-influenced approach to black metal that was nonetheless rooted in pastoral folk ideas- something very comparable to Cascadian acts across the Atlantic. But, in hindsight I felt their subtler passages weren’t rendered effectively enough, particularly in the gentlest sections in which the clean vocals were not quite up to scratch.Epoch represents a definite step forward- though I didn’t realise that until I put The Malediction Fields on straight after and was left feeling quite underwhelmed. Like the respective hues of the cover art, a wintry brown as opposed to a resonant blue, the timbres used just feel richer here, blended into a more organic whole. I suspect this may be because the band has really strengthened its engagement with progressive rock. Whilst that is hardly a revolutionary concept in today’s black metal scene, it suits Fen’s sound perfectly, enabling a real textural depth to develop. The opening title track is a highly effective six-minute build-up in which a gracefully pulsating bassline, luxurious keys, mournful faded vocals and rolling, almost tribal percussion wind around each other like colours merging on canvass. This multi-faceted and subtly shifting sound is perhaps best evidenced by The Gibbet Elms, in which an agitated, undulating bassline (Grungyn does a fine job on this album) is repeatedly transformed into a picture of 1970s progressive rock serenity by sweet string-led chord progressions. Angry black metal blasting appears momentarily and is then subsumed back into the wash, in place to unbalance the sound and lend a needed sense of drama rather than to take centre stage.
    Thus whilst this is unquestionably a metal album it isn’t really a heavy one. Regarding the vocals, a frequent feature are those clean, melancholy moans employed in the opener, which blend into the picture and are rarely asked to carry songs alone. This is to the album's benefit, because it is the harsher vocals that work best here. They cram in a wealth of ragged emotion, sometimes even touching on a yelled Primordial-like character. Instrumentally, periods of blackened intensity are relatively rare but rendered more effective as they emerge out of this deeply-textured progressive collage of sound. For example the breathless and savage blasting of Of Wilderness and Ruin never manages to quite displace its subtler surroundings, but instead merges into them like a trace of black added to blue, darkening the palette but never transforming it. Indeed, for long stretches it is only the harsh vocals that retain the link to black metal, with even the growling finale of Ashbringer being deeply soaked in powerful keyboard tones.
    Fen inhabit a world in which this wistful, folksy approach to black metal has been covered by several key scenes already. They must sit between the stark, organic approach of Negura Bunget, the rural bleakness of Primordial, and of course the post-rock influenced ideas of North American bands like Agalloch. But with Epoch, they seem to have found their own distinct- dare I say quaint?- niche. Such is the success of their genteel proggy influences here that on future albums I wouldn’t be that surprised to hear more esoteric (perhaps Canterbury scene) influences filtering in. If you were intrigued by The Malediction Fields, you will be engrossed by Epoch.


    Killing Songs : The Gibbet Elms, Of Wilderness and Ruin, Ashbringer Charles 88 / 100
     
  16. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.magicfiremusic.net/chronique.php?id=3602

    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Amateurs de Black Metal, d'ambiances sombres et morbides, vous apprécierez sans aucun doute cet album ! Pourquoi en serais-je aussi certain ? Car je n'aime pas le Black Metal, et que malgré tout, cet album m'intéresse. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Difficile pour moi de décrire avec une réelle objectivité ce qui ne me plait pas, tant ces défauts (selon moi) sont récurrents dans les productions du genre : il y a toujours un musicien pour être à côté des temps, en l'occurence le bassiste ne semble pas à son aise en introduction de l'album,; mais surtout ce chant de mort-vivant qui bouffe toute possibilité d'écouter l'ensemble sans qu'un néophyte peu attiré par ce répertoire ne se dise toutes les six secondes : "Mais pourquoi il beugle en soupirant, il imite quoi là ? Y'a même pas d'animaux qui poussent ces cris là!" (Je vexe au passage certains de mes contacts qui eux-mêmes braillent tout ce qu'ils peuvent sans qu'on y comprenne jamais rien...s'cusez moi les mecs).[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]Mais malgré cette ambiance morbide et anti-technique (me parlez pas de blast quand le batteur alterne ride et caisse claire avec une pédale simple de surcroit...), on trouve sur cet album de belles envolées bien éloignées des traditions ou des clichés du Black Metal. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Bien entendu, quelques textures très crust forment une couche opaque de guitares mélancoliques, mais parfois quelques rayons de soleil sous forme de break à la limite du post-rock viennent casser le rythme et la névrose noire. Chapeau, c'est réussi en tous cas.
    [/FONT][FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Plus d'une heure de son ! Car de plus cet album est rudement fourni ! "The Gibbet Elms" rapelle fortement les sonorités d'un Dreams Of The Drowned, avec ses développements qui déchirent les repères rythmiques tout en installant des mélodies assez mémorables et recherchées. Ce morceau balance en six minutes un ensemble impressionant d'idées et d'arrangements épiques, avec quelques retours de guitares folk... On en croit pas nos oreilles... [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif]En bref, n'étant pas connaisseur de cette scène très peu attirante selon mes critères, je suis tout de même très impressionné par la polyvalence et l'ouverture musicale de ce groupe qui repousse quelques frontières avec talent. Le vrai problème de ce type de son : la production se veut crade... C'est justifié, mais un vrai son de batterie un tantinet travaillé et plus carré ferait du bien... [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]

    A découvrir ! Pour sur ! Mention spéciale : "Carrier Of Echoes" et son ambiance magique, ses parties prog et ses horizons lointains...
    [/FONT]
     
  17. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.rockline.it/review4379.html

    “Epoch” è il secondo disco dei Fen, post-Black Metal band inglese facente parte di uno sparuto ma affascinante gruppo di bands provenienti dalle isole britanniche (Caïna, Wodensthrone, A Forest of Stars, Winterfylleth, e volendo anche gli irlandesi Altar of Plagues) che negli ultimi anni stanno innalzando lo stendardo del (moderno) Black Metal in un paese tradizionalmente povero di grandi gruppi in quel settore.

    Il quartetto in forza alla nostrana Code666 Records può contare sul buon riscontro ottenuto anni fa dal debutto “The Malediction Fields”, grazioso ibrido di Black Metal e Post Rock sulla scia degli Agalloch. Limate le ingenuità di quel disco, con il nuovo “Epoch” si ha la sensazione che i Fen vogliano ora lasciare il segno sul serio.
    L'ingresso del tastierista Æðelwalh, ex membro dei più taglienti Wodensthrone (il loro “Loss” del 2009 era disco degno d'interesse per gli amanti del Pagan Black), ha probabilmente contribuito a dare una dimensione più oscura e atmosferica ai Fen, i cui giochi tra luci ed ombre sono ora più convincenti che in passato.
    Il livello tecnico si è innalzato: in particolare il basso (ottima prova, in un genere in cui questo strumento è di solito mera comparsa) e la batteria sono ora protagonisti di interessanti intrecci che arricchiscono l'arsenale ritmico del gruppo, mentre le tastiere offrono spunti ariosi e fungono da collante tra le varie anime del gruppo. Incroci tra black metal (come anticipato, leggermente più tetro e cupo che in passato) e influenze rock sono il marchio di fabbrica dei Fen, e l'atmosfera sognante e scintillante dei momenti più morbidi (con intrusioni da indie, post-rock e shoegaze, oramai codificate dalle recenti sperimentazioni in quelle direzioni) riesce egregiamente a mantenere in equilibrio il disco, piuttosto equamente diviso tra momenti di furia ed altri di introspezione.

    A livello vocale troviamo un altro dei principali miglioramenti: se una delle scelte più contestate di “The Malediction Fields” fu l'utilizzo di una voce pulita non sempre convincente quando impiegata nel pieno della sua forza, i Fen paiono aver fatto tesoro delle critiche e in “Epoch” utilizzano le clean vocals in maniera nettamente più sfumata e delicata, spesso sussurrata. La parte del leone, comunque, è sempre affidata allo screaming. Tutti piuttosto lunghi (6-10 minuti) ed articolati i brani proposti, oltreché di qualità e stile simile: piuttosto inutile, quindi, descriverne uno in particolare (per chi scrive, ad ogni modo, “Carrier of Echoes” è risultato essere il più intrigante del lotto).

    Non un disco dedicato a chi è interessato ad un approccio sanguigno e carnale al Black Metal, ma certamente un appuntamento consigliato per tutti gli appassionati dei più moderni e meticciati risvolti del genere.
    Inutile aggiungere che per chi ha apprezzato “The Malediction Fields” l'ascolto è pressoché obbligatorio, visti i progressi fatti dai Fen con questa nuova release.
     
  18. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.headbang.it/recensione/epoch/9711

    Fen

    Epoch

    Code666, 2011

    Voto: 9/10

    Bisogna dare merito alla Code 666 per aver "trovato" i Fen dopo l'ottimo ep di esordio Ancient Sorrow sotto Northern Silence Productions. Già si intravedevano le qualità che sarebbero esplose nel primo full-lenght The Malediction Fields, disco che rese noti a parecchi la formazione inglese. Cosi nel corso di questo 2011 possiamo goderci la seconda prova su lunga durata intitolata Epoch, e ancora una volta bisogna ringraziare i Fen poichè il disco è di incredibile valore.
    Se teniamo conto anche degli irlandesi Primordial possiamo parlare di vero e proprio "stampo" dell'arcipelago britannico citando anche formazioni come Forefather e i più sconosciuti Iceni. Epicità e sentimento senza dimenticare la furia del black metal, questo il tratto comune di tutte queste bands e i Fen con il nuovo Epoch ne sono una brillante testimonianza.
    Bisogna amare i tempi dilatati, le atmosfere soffuse e "rock", e avere la pazienza di far sbocciare dentro di se lo splendido riffing per poter apprezzare al meglio il nuovo arrivato. Un disco che pensa a creare melodia anche quando offende (non pensate ad un disco "scarico" o molliccio) e attacca deciso. Una volta scardinato l'ostacolo dei lunghi pezzi e del lavoro incessante delle chitarre Epoch si svelerà completamente catturando ogni senso. Un lungo viaggio dove possiamo trovare quasi di tutto, la furia in primis come già anticipato non manca, la sospensione e la freddezza delle chitarre poi conferiscono un senso magico di costante emozione. Da non trascurare poi le vocals, aspre, violente e interpretate alla perfezione (voce pulita nei momenti giusti e scream perfetto). Nel suo insieme la musica sgorga fluida e naturale come se fosse stata concepita in questo modo esatto ancor prima di essere stata creata.

    La title track da inizio al tutto e snocciola uno dei momenti più epici del disco, un trionfo glorioso il crescendo che si ha per tutto il brano. Poi si libera il lato selvaggio con Ghost of the Flood, rude e malinconica dove si percepisce l'importanza della tastiera in sottofondo, quasi "impalpabile" ma sicuramente centro nevralgico e quindi determinante della musica marchiata Fen. The Gibbet Elms rapisce ancora prima di svelarsi, e quando è ormai impossibile tornare indietro ci rendiamo conto di che razza di brano stiamo ascoltando. Definirei questa canzone un vero e proprio colpo di genio. Of Wilderness And Ruin è un altro pezzo da novanta, altro crescendo perfetto dove coesistono leggiadria compositiva e furia "astrale". Half-Light Eternal scommetto che sarà la più adorata fra tutte le nuove grazie ad un finale davvero sublime (al quale mi prostro). Ormai succubi di questo trionfo musicale i nostri non finiscono di stupire e tirano fuori un altro brano eccelso dal titolo Carrier of Echoes, i Fen in pratica fanno dell'ascoltatore ciò che vogliono, portandolo dove vogliono. Continue sospensioni, perenni riflessioni e ancora ripartenze, questa musica ha del potere speciale ed "evocativo" e già mi immagino come potrebbe essere se ascoltata durante qualche idoneo viaggio.
    Ma le leccornie non sono ancora finite, c'è spazio ancora per A Waning Solace e Ashbringer e se vi aspettate qualche attimo di fiacca siete proprio fuori strada. I Fen hanno ancora frecce di valore e le usano senza timore sino alla fine. A Waning Solace ci abbraccia e tranquillizza con importanti "aperture" ed intrecci vocali. Ashbringer chiude il cerchio offrendo eleganza e rudezza, l'ascolto termina cosi in maniera magica come è giusto che sia.
    Forse non c'era bisogno di specificarlo ma la produzione appare viva e pulsante e rappresenta il coronamento perfetto del pregevole songwriting.

    Scontato ormai dirlo ma Epoch si candida da subito come uno dei dischi migliori del 2011. Perdersi tutta questa classe sarebbe un vero peccato. Di solito sono restio quando si elogiano tutti questi gruppi nuovi tendenti al "rock" e simili in campo black metal e limitrofo, ci vedo intorno una "troppa esaltazione", ma questa volta posso dire (fortunatamente) di essere stato "avvelenato" pure io.
     
  19. Emi

    Emi underdog

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    http://www.metal-glory.de/reviews_neu.php?nr=20635

    Fen, welche auch schon mal als Doom Black Metal beschrieben wurden, bringen dieser Tage über Aural/Code666 ihr zweites Album „Epoch“ unter die Hörerschaft. Wenn ich die ersten Töne der Scheibe höre wird aber sofort klar; mit Black oder Doom hat das nicht sehr viel zu tun. Auf „Epoch“ gibt es eher ein progressives Klangerlebnis mit einer Menge, anscheinend immer mehr in Mode kommenden, Post Metal. Black Metal finde ich hauptsächlich in den Vocals und in einigen Drum Passagen, von Doom ist hier gar keine Spur zu vernehmen. Ich kenne das Erstlingswerk der Briten nicht und so kann ich jetzt auch nicht sagen warum sie als Doom/ Black bezeichnet wurden, zu diesem Album passt die Beschreibung jedenfalls gar nicht. Post Metal mit progressiver Ausrichtung ist hier passender, was der Titelsong und Opener schon mal gleich aufzeigt. Von besagtem Post metallischem über die erwähnten Black Metal artigen Vocals und der progressiven Vertraktheit ist hier schon mal gleich alles vorhanden. Dies zieht sich durchs ganze Album. Allerdings lässt die immer gleiche Struktur der Songs, das Werk auch schnell langweilig werden und zeigt wieder einmal dass der Spruch „weniger ist manchmal mehr“ seine Daseinsberechtigung hat.

    Fazit: Fen sind eine Band die zwar ihr musikalisches Handwerk verstehen, darüber aber ihr Gespür für Längen außer Acht lassen. „Epoch“ ist ein Album welches durchaus Potential besitzt aber es nicht auszuschöpfen versteht. Die Produktion ist ziemlich gut gelungen und für Freunde progressiver Musik, die auch schon mal ein offenes Ohr für Post metallische Strukturen haben, kann man dieses Album auch ohne Reue empfehlen. Puristen sollten die Finger davon lassen.
    7/10 Punkte
     
  20. Emi

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