FEN
Atmospheric Black Metal • United Kingdom

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Fen is a UK post/experimental/atmospheric black metal act formed in 2006. The band is named after a region in England called The Fens where the band members grew up. The Fens is an area of marsh- and wetlands and is characterized by being a very flat and mysterious landscape. Fen find much of their inspiration in the atmosphere of this area.

Their music is based in harsh black metal but has lots of ambient and epic elements as well as elements from post rock/ metal.

The band currently consists of Grungyn (bass, vocals, 2006 -), The Watcher (vocals, guitars, keyboards, 2006 -) and Derwydd (drums, 2011 -). Former members are Theutus (drums, 2006 - 2011), Draugluin (keyboards, 2006 - 2010) and Æðelwalh (keyboards, 2010 - 2011).

The first release by the band was the Ancient Sorrow EP from 2007. Fen released an independent demo called Onset of Winter in November of 2008 before
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WinterWinter
Code666 2017
Audio CD$12.83
$12.96 (used)
Carrion SkiesCarrion Skies
Code666 2014
Audio CD$14.71
$8.99 (used)
DustwalkerDustwalker
CODE666 2013
Audio CD$11.50
$11.54 (used)
EpochEpoch
Code666 2015
Vinyl$18.38
$22.46 (used)
The Malediction FieldsThe Malediction Fields
Import
AURAL MUSIC 2011
Audio CD$11.30
$12.77 (used)
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Ramsey & Fen Featuring Lynsey Moore ‎– Love Bug 2000 UK 12 Ramsey & Fen Featuring Lynsey Moore ‎– Love Bug 2000 UK 12" USD $3.77 Buy It Now 2h 34m
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Fen - Ancient Sorrow LP - RARE Import Atmospheric Black Metal NEW - CLEAR Vinyl Fen - Ancient Sorrow LP - RARE Import Atmospheric Black Metal NEW - CLEAR Vinyl USD $19.99 Buy It Now 4 days
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Dr Robert Staring Down The Bird UK CD single (CD5 / 5 Dr Robert Staring Down The Bird UK CD single (CD5 / 5") FEN001 FEN CAT 1999 USD $12.14 Buy It Now 4 days
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FEN Discography

FEN albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.15 | 15 ratings
The Malediction Fields
Atmospheric Black Metal 2009
.. Album Cover 4.12 | 32 ratings
Epoch
Atmospheric Black Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 4.16 | 10 ratings
Dustwalker
Atmospheric Black Metal 2013
.. Album Cover 4.48 | 5 ratings
Carrion Skies
Atmospheric Black Metal 2014
.. Album Cover 4.78 | 7 ratings
Winter
Atmospheric Black Metal 2017

FEN EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Ancient Sorrow
Atmospheric Black Metal 2007
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 4 ratings
Towards the Shores of the End
Atmospheric Black Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Call of Ashes II / Stone and Sea
Atmospheric Black Metal 2016

FEN live albums

FEN demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Onset of Winter
Atmospheric Black Metal 2008

FEN re-issues & compilations

FEN singles (0)

FEN movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

FEN Reviews

FEN Winter

Album · 2017 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Kev Rowland


Formed in early 2006 with the goal of producing Atmospheric Black Metal that incorporates elements of post-rock, Fen have, since then, found themselves at the vanguard of a resurgent UK Black Metal scene. With an EP, four full length albums, several splits and compilations to their name so far, this their latest full-length album (released March 2017) is their most ambitious to date, as they have combined Black metal with many other styles to create something that is very special indeed. Conceptually, they have returned to the roots of their ideology, seeking to embrace and distil all that inspired them when they first set out on this path over a decade ago – that is, to invoke the ambience of bleak reflection and ancient sorrow that permeates the mysterious landscapes of the fens of Eastern England.

According to singer/guitarist The Watcher this album “very much describes a journey towards sanctity and redemption across a landscape steeped in mystery, hints of forgotten darkness and sorrows long since drowned in the distant past.” There are six songs, but the only real way to play this album is to put it on at the beginning and be prepared for seventy-five minutes of music that will take you well away from the comfortable world you reside in, to a place that is far more barren and bleak, filled with foggy atmosphere and danger. How just three guys (The Watcher is joined by Havenless on drums and Grungyn on bass and vocals) can produce something as majestic and over the top of as this is just beyond me. It shows that although the Scandinavian countries seemed to have very much a stranglehold on this type of music for a long time, that is no longer the case. Fen have been going for ten years now, and they are just maturing and getting even better with age. The record label describes this as “atmospheric Black Metal and delicate, spacious cleans, married with aspects of 70s progressive rock, shoegaze and doom metal”. I can make it much simpler than that. This is genius, nothing less.

FEN Winter

Album · 2017 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
The United Kingdom has become a bit of a little hotbed for a certain brand of atmospheric black metal act in the last ten years. There's a trio of bands that have long stood out that represent this niche; Winterfylleth, the sadly now defunct Wodensthrone and of course the subject of this review, Fen, who to my ears have proved themselves the pack leader for their high quality, consistent output all the way back to debut album The Malediction Fields (2009). The band, which has revolved around The Watcher (vocals, guitars) and Grungyn (bass, vocals) since their 2006 formation, have continued to impress with each release, with up until this point the standout for me being Dustwalker (2013), which a few years down the track I've started to think of as their underrated release. Now presenting their fifth album Winter (2017), I have little reason to think that Fen will be giving their fans anything to worry about.

And that's absolutely the case, naturally. Masters of their craft, on Winter we find Fen delivering a set of six tracks that flow into each other, making the experience like listening to one seventy-five minute song, an impression only further cemented by them being titled with Roman numerals, with the rest of their names in brackets, making them appear more like sub-titles. Each track breaks or at least gets very close to the ten minute barrier and includes the band's longest track yet, the 17:08 I (Pathway). The shortest is the last, VI (Sight), which still lasts for 9:44. Though broken up into these hefty chunks, each of which carries it's own feel and identity, Winter is an album that deserves your full attention from beginning to end without a pause and it's for that reason that I shan't mention any particular track as a clear highlight. Winter is the highlight.

Musically Winter blends many elements familiar to the Fen sound such as atmospheric black metal, post-rock and a mix of harsh and clean vocals. While they are not a band whose sound tends to vary too much between releases, the biggest shift in the past being between second album Epoch (2011) and Dustwalker when they dropped having a keyboardist in their line-up, meaning that Winter is unmistakeably the work of Fen, they have never been a 'heard one, heard them all' kind of band and that's especially true of this album as it finds Fen adding more progressive metal airs to their sound, with the album featuring some riffs of added complexity compared to the blackened atmosphere that their genre typically serves up. I (Pathway) is quite noticeable for this and is quite a direct progressive black metal sounding section of the album for a good chunk of its length, while other tracks tread more familiar ground.

A long album such as Winter has every chance of coming across as overwhelming or even simply being too much of a good thing. That is not the case here. Like other Fen albums the first impression was incredibly positive and further listens have only shown the album to keep on giving the more it is explored. Speaking as someone who has loved all of Fen's prior work, to my ears Winter is on a whole other level. An ambitious release and one that the trio pull off smoothly and with finesse. For my money, this is the best album from Fen yet.

FEN Dustwalker

Album · 2013 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
UMUR
"Dustwalker" is the 3rd full-length studio album by UK black metal/shoegaze act Fen. The album was released through code666 in January 2013. Since the release of "Epoch (2011)" drummer Theutus has been replaced by Derwydd and keyboard player Æðelwalh has left the band. As a consequence "Dustwalker" was recorded as a trio consisting of Derwydd (drums), The Watcher (lead vocals, guitars) and Grungyn (bass, vocals).

...the new trio format and the lack of a keyboard player replacement, have quite a bit of impact on how "Dustwalker" sounds compared to the first two albums. But then again, the basic core of the band´s music is still intact and you are never in doubt that it is Fen you´re listening to. I´d say "Dustwalker" leans a bit more toward the shoegaze part of Fen´s sound, but there are still several raw yet atmosperic black metal parts on the album too. The epic majestic element that was often created with the use of keyboards on the first couple of albums, is not as prominent on "Dustwalker", but I´d still call the music epic albeit in a slightly different way. The vocals alternate between raspy black metal type vocals and melancholic clean vocals. It´s still the influence from artists like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive that are most prominent in the music (of course paired with an atmospheric and raw black metal sound) but the vocal delivery in "Hands of Dust" also brings Joy Division into the picture as an influence.

The organic and raw sound production suits the music perfectly and proves to be another asset to an already great album release by Fen. The tracks are generally very long (most of them between 7 and 13 minutes long) and the 66:48 minutes long album requires both patience and many spins before all details unveil themselves. It will probably be debated among fans if they prefer they "old" sound with the dominant synths or the more organic and simple three-piece sound of "Dustwalker". Personally it took some getting used to, but upon conclusion I think it´s great that Fen have opted for a slightly different musical approach this time around. Both because it works really well but also because it makes "Dustwalker" stand out from their first two albums. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

FEN Dustwalker

Album · 2013 · Atmospheric Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Conor Fynes
'Dustwalker' - Fen (9/10)

Around this time two years ago, Fen offered its second record to date, "Epoch". Adorned with an inconspicuous blue cover and coming from a band I had then-heard very little about, I would never had predicted that it would become one of the most powerful experiences I'd ever had with metal overall, let alone any of the specific sub-genres listeners claim the band fit into. Boasting a style fusion of atmospheric black metal and post-rock popularized by some North American bands (namely Wolves in the Throne Room and Agalloch), Fen put their own twist on the tried-and-true formula, evoking an atmosphere like few I'd ever heard before. To this day, I've considered "Epoch" one of the greatest black metal albums to come out of the contemporary period, and it comes as no surprise, then, that "Dustwalker" was, and still is an album that inspires quite a bit of excitement in me. Although it may still be too early to tell how "Dustwalker" will ultimately stand against its near-perfect predecessor, I can't think of a better album to have started 2013 on. It's a rich, darkly beautiful exploration of the feelings between hope and despair, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's just as impressive by year's end.

Especially considering the effect "Epoch" has had on me, it's only natural to have approached "Dustwalker" wondering how it would stand up to the one before. Although albums have been cut from the same proverbial cloth, there is the sense that Fen wished to reinvent themselves here, however subtle the changes may be. While "Epoch" gave the impression of an air, or aether-based album, "Dustwalker" offers an earthier experiences. Many of the superfluous background synths have been taken out of the mix, now replaced by a greater focus on clean guitar tones. Although the emotional emphasis on melancholia and sober reflection has never faltered within Fen's formula, the way they convey the atmosphere feels far for natural. Rather than "Epoch"s experience of soaring lonesome over a dark forest, "Dustwalker" plants you beneath the tree canopy, looking from the roots up and feeling all the more insignificant as a result.

As one may imagine, Fen's black metal aspect has become grittier with this earthy atmosphere and production. Even so, Fen's style seems more rooted in post-rock aesthetic than ever. Although the distorted guitar tones have been kept true to organic form, there's nothing about the sound that grinds against the ears; it's a rare case where I would call a black metal album beautiful from the classical aesthetic. Much like Fen's past work however, "Dustwalker" enjoys a fair deal of cinematic complexity birthed by an influence in progressive rock. Most of these tracks linger around the ten minute mark, and there are ideas enough to keep each of them vibrant and engaging throughout. Among these, the first three tracks ("Consequence", "Hands of Dust", and "Spectre") are the best things the album has to offer. "Consequence" takes a more progressive approach to songwriting than previously seen from the band, whereas the second and third opt for a slower-paced, 'cinematic' feel. "Spectre" may very well be the greatest thing Fen have ever done, opening with warm acoustics and brittle-yet-tender clean vocals, before ultimately building up into an almighty climax that has never lost any of its staying power. The second half of the album follows a similar stylistic direction, but it never feels quite as memorable and emotionally perfect as the first three tracks.

Although it has higher highs than "Epoch", "Dustwalker" is not quite as consistent as its predecessor. Regardless, Fen have successfully innovated their sound just enough to make this album take on a life of its own. It will be curious to see if any other atmospheric black metal band this year is able to knock off Fen off of their early throne. Ultimately, it will be up to time to decide where the album stands, but it's rare that an album leaves such an immediate, yet lasting impact on me. 2013 is now upon us, and it is sounding incredible.

FEN Dustwalker

Album · 2013 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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Dustwalker (2013) is the third full-length album to be released by UK atmospheric black metal/blackgaze act Fen. In the couple of years since the release of Epoch (2011) Fen have split from their keyboardist Æðelwalh and drummer Theutus, and on Dustwalker have opted to continue on as a three-piece act, with Theutus being replaced by Derwydd. There are two versions of the album that have been announced, a regular CD featuring seven tracks and a limited clambox edition which features an additional bonus track.

The sound of Dustwalker is unmistakable than of Fen, although listening to the album back to back with Epoch and it’s pretty easy to take note of Æðelwalh’s absence. The direction of the band’s music remains very much unchanged for all intents and purposes but the guitars played by The Watcher take on roles within the music where previously Æðelwalh’s synth would have been utilised. I don’t see this as either a particularly good or bad thing for Fen, as the removal of a keyboardist hasn’t affected Fen’s ability to maintain their sound and it has also allowed produce a record with a bit of a different atmosphere compared to Epoch, and when you make music in the vein that Fen does I think that’s an important thing to make sure you do. The decision to not replace Æðelwalh has resulted in Dustwalker having a distinct identity next to Epoch.

Fen, for those new to the band, play typically long and drawn out songs (the shortest on Dustwalker is Reflections at 1:49 but the rest, bonus track notwithstanding, are at least past the seven minute mark) and being an integral part of the still fairly recent blackgaze explosion (blackgaze meaning a mix of black metal and shoegaze), their music tends to feature some slow sections as the band builds up their atmosphere, and influences from post-rock are evident. Clean tone guitars tend to be as commonplace within the music as the distorted rawer sounding guitar sounds that come out during the black metal sections. Spectre, the third track is for example is 10:22 minutes of Fen playing with no metal elements, much less black metal, at all until the very end when things build up into a little bit of ferocity (although to call that little bit metal is still something of a stretch in my opinion) before calming down again.

As such Dustwalker is an album which contains all the strengths and weaknesses that Epoch did, although I use the term weakness loosely. It’s an obvious acquired taste with the way the band flirts with influences from opposite ends of the musical spectrum, as evident during Hands of Dust which is calm for its first half, only to build up into one of the most intense metal sections on the entire album. But a Fen album wouldn’t be right if they didn’t do this with their music, and just like with Epoch the end result is frankly stunning so long as you have the patience for this sort of music. Dustwalker won’t reward you if all you want is hooks and cheap thrills, but if you feel like kicking back and taking in the atmosphere Fen have created, then it quickly becomes clear to me that Fen have not only done what they do best and produced one of the most interesting albums to fall under the blackgaze style, but they’ve also outdone themselves and managed to better Epoch, and produce their best album to date.

It’s a bit more accessible I think and easier to get into than either Epoch or their debut The Malediction Fields (2009) and while some may miss that distinctive sound that came from Æðelwalh’s contribution to the Fen sound I can’t help but feel that the band has perfected the atmosphere they were going for on Dustwalker. The press release accompanying my promo copy of the album describes Dustwalker as representing the “cold, sharp greys of a bleak winter’s dawn”, and that’s a description which I can identify this music with, seeing as Dustwalker is released in the winter, and as luck would have it for me as I was writing this review it is snowing outside, making Dustwalker all the more powerful an experience. While I can’t promise snow on demand for whenever you may want to give the album a spin I’m not sure it’ll ultimately matter, as in Dustwalker Fen have taken a step up from their two exceptional prior albums and given us their first masterpiece. A top tier rating is deserved and even as early as January we already have a contender for the black metal album of 2013.

98/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org/fen-dustwalker-t2763.html))

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