FEN
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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Carrion SkiesCarrion Skies
Code666 2014
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$12.04 (used)
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Limited Edition · Special Edition
CODE666 2013
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$34.17 (used)
EpochEpoch
AURAL MUSIC 2011
Audio CD$11.08
$8.83 (used)
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AURAL MUSIC 2011
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FEN Discography

FEN albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.10 | 13 ratings
The Malediction Fields
Black Metal 2009
.. Album Cover 4.26 | 29 ratings
Epoch
Black Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 9 ratings
Dustwalker
Black Metal 2013
.. Album Cover 4.46 | 4 ratings
Carrion Skies
Black Metal 2014

FEN EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 4.25 | 2 ratings
Ancient Sorrow
Black Metal 2007
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 4 ratings
Towards the Shores of the End
Black Metal 2011

FEN live albums

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

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

FEN boxset & compilations

FEN singles (0)

FEN movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

FEN Reviews

FEN Dustwalker

Album · 2013 · 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 Since the release of "Epoch (2011)" drummer Theutus has been replaced by Derwydd and keyboard player Æðelwalh has left the band.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 · 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 · Black Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
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))

FEN Dustwalker

Album · 2013 · Black Metal
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Phonebook Eater
4/10

An unfortunate, missed attempt to evolve Fen's sound.

Fen is an English Black Metal band, and Dustwalker is their third full length album, the follow up to the beautiful and emotional Epoch, most definitely one of the most unique and precious albums of 2011. However, listening to Dustwalker was an immense disappointment; it looks like the band has stepped down to being an average Black Metal band that uses reverb and atmosphere as nothing but a pretentious gimmick.

Although the production remains more or less similar to the band's previous works, the really good musicianship persists, and there still is a progressive attitude in terms of song structure, the band has lost the most important thing on their way to accomplishing Dustwalker: good, memorable songwriting. None of the songs have that touching beauty that embraced so many spots of Epoch, despite a few nice, gentle guitar passages and a few pleasantly thick atmospheres. The melodies are way too generally written to be memorable, and as a result boredom dominates the listener easily.

The song that stands out the most is "Hands Of Dust", which boasts a beautiful first half that reminds of some moments from the band's previous album, and a decent second half that goes full-on aggression. The following track, "Spectre", tries to repeat the same formula but doesn't feel as effective, because of the songwriting. After an interesting interlude diving the seven tracks into two different parts, songs that are part of the latter part of the album are incredibly weak in terms of melodic passages and although the band's execution is still very good, there really isn't much to execute that will linger in the listener's head.

On a personal point of view, Dustwalker is much of a disappointment, considering how of a great impression Fen did to me two years ago with Epoch; such a good one in fact that I'll certainly continue to follow this band, regardless of this decline of theirs. Hopefully, it's just a brief parenthesis of their career.

FEN Epoch

Album · 2011 · Black Metal
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Warthur
Fen's second album greatly impressed me on my first listen, on which I thought they offered a deft mixture of shoegaze, post-rock and black metal comparable to a more melancholic version of the better Alcest releases. Sadly, on subsequent listens I found my attention wandering more and more. The thing about the band is that they seem to be relying on the genre mashup schtick to cover for the fact that they haven't quite mastered either genre, rather than to make use of a practised mastery of both crafts. Take out the black metal and you'd have mediocre shoegaze; take out the shoegaze and you'd have mediocre black metal. Add them together and you have novelty and regular changes of pace, but you don't actually have any material which truly excels at being shoegaze, black metal, or blackgaze for that matter. Stylish, worth a quick listen, but they don't excel.

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