FEN — Epoch

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FEN - Epoch cover
4.20 | 36 ratings | 9 reviews
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Album · 2011


1. Epoch (6:18)
2. Ghosts of the Flood (6:25)
3. Of Wilderness and Ruin (8:18)
4. The Gibbet Elms (6:29)
5. Carrier of Echoes (10:38)
6. Half-Light Eternal (8:22)
7. A Waning Solace (9:51)
8. Ashbringer (8:34)

Total Time: 64:58


- Æðelwalh / Synths, backing vocals
- Theutus / Drums
- The Watcher / Vocals, guitars
- Grungyn / Bass, backing vocals

About this release

Format: Jewel-Box CD (code051)
Ltd. Edition Artbook-CD (code051s)
Label: code666
Cat.Nr: code051
UPC code: 8033622532019 (code051)
8033622532026 (code051s)
Street Date: February 11th , 2011

Thanks to UMUR for the addition and Vehemency, adg211288 for the updates

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FEN EPOCH reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

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.
I'm a big fen!

Fen got themselves a new fanatic. I haven't been so excited about an extreme metal band since discovering Opeth back in 2005! The music these guys play is absolutely haunting, beautiful and intriguing extreme metal, deeply rooted in the black side of the genre. Did I mention that black metal is not really my cup of tea?

When it comes to mixing styles I consider myself quite a picky person. I hate bands that clumsily combine different genres, creating an inconsistent medley. However, Fen mixed all elements with such talent and intuition that I just couldn't be dissatisfied. Obviously, the core of the whole is black metal, but what Fen has built on that foundation is a pure bliss. EPOCH is a fascinating journey where black metal savagery meets psychedelic and wistful sounds of shoegaze seasoned with post rock lightness and dreamy atmosphere of foggy wilderness. The music is emotional and bleak but you won't find any cheap or imitative tricks used to achieve the result. Everything stays in balance, just like in nature. Softness and harshness merge in one consistent and unique piece of art. There's originality of riffs and progression of rhythms but with ambiance in the foreground; there's fury and rawness of black metal with genuine passion being of prime importance. Really, in terms of creating unique and moving harmonies Fen are the Opeth of black metal.

There's one thing that gets on my nerves when I listen to typical atmospheric black metal band - that is monotony. Lengthy and unimaginative passages that cause impatience at best and boredom at worst. I was all the more surprised when I realized that I didn't get bored, not even once, while listening to EPOCH. I sat, speechless with wonder, listening to heart rending final of "Carrier of Echoes", evocative "Ghosts of the Flood" and haunting "The Gibbet Elms".
Phonebook Eater
It’s nice seeing that, even though being still at the beginning of the year, we see so manyn great albums already coming to life: but I have to say that “Epoch” is simply the best so far, like many are starting to believe. In these last few years almost never Black Metal has reached these unexpected levels, and this said by a true admirer of the genre. “Epoch” is very possibly going to be the Black Metal album of the year.

The band is called “Fen”, an English band that released their debut album in 2009. A band that has proven that Black Metal is one of the most active genres of Metal generally speaking. Atmospheric Black Metal is as well been pretty popular lately, and very possibly this album is one of the pinnacles of the most recent movement. The music is rough, the atmospheres bleak and evocative, with excellent musicianship from all the musicians. other than ABM, we here in different occasions some shoegaze influences, a genre that I personally love.

Songs like “Carrier of Echoes”, “Ashbringer”, the tense but somewhat haunting title track, and many others just strike you like lightning, for their intense and beautiful tones that make this album so peculiar and fascinating.

An album I think many metal fans should start taking a peek at, and I can assure you it won’t waste your time, or money.
With "Epoch", Fen delivers the kind of harsh but atmospheric album that I had expected from Agalloch in 2010.

But while they are comparable to Agalloch, the band has found a sound of their own by adding elements from the British post-punk and shoegazer tradition, such as the big atmospheric synths from The Cure (Desintegration era), the Pink Floyd-derived clean guitar arpeggios from Fields of The Nephelim, and the occasional whispered shoegazer vocals, which were introduced into the Black Metal real already 16 years ago by Ulver. "Epoch" manages to conjure up a moving atmosphere drenched in melancholia, but as to the songwriting they are still dwarfed by named bands.

Because of the shoegaze vocals, the album ends somewhere halfway between the latest albums of Agalloch and Alcest. So Fen can be assured of a nice ride in their slipstream and, given the hype surrounding this type of atmospheric post-Black metal, they can expect a strong position in the 2011 year lists. Compared to Agalloch's "Marrow the Spirit", "Epoch" is an improvement on all counts. First of all they reach a higher level of musicality, mostly due to the more inventive drumming and the less cliché guitars. But also the vocals are much better, at least the growls and shrieks are, as they are much dirtier, grimier and nauseating then Agalloch's, and that's exactly how they should be.

The clean whispery vocals could still be improved a little but they aren't overused so that's ok. The songwriting is fairly good, but after a while the dreary mood of the music gets a bit too monotonous, there's not one song that really stands out neither. The production is a bit rough but that perfectly suits the music.

Fen still has some growing potential and I expect they will blow us away once they manage to make their songs more distinguishable from one another. Until that happens I'll stick with Alcest for my fix of - deep breath - atmospheric post-Black Metal with touches of post-punk and shoegaze. Nice one.
The Block
Of Wilderness and Ruin

To say that I like black metal even the slightest would be a bit of an over statement. Up until “Epoch” I had only found one black metal album that I generally liked and that was “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss” by Burzum. Taking that into account, before I even listened to Fen’s newest album I had listened to the hype and expected great things. And I pretty much got what I wanted. With great atmospheric passages and heavy riffs replacing each other seamlessly “Epoch” almost immediately caught my attention and kept it there every time I listened. Needless to say Fen has created an amazing album that is almost a lock to take “Album of the Year 2011”.

One thing that really made me like this album was the musicians on the album. They catch your attention right off the bat with a great atmospheric opening to the album in the title track “Epoch”. The synths, played by Æðelwalh, are absolutely superb throughout the title track and the whole album. One thing that Fen does exceptionally is transfer from light airy melodies to killer heavier riffs that are so good. This difference between dark and mysterious and light and innocent sounding tracks makes for a very enjoyable experience. One of the best things to do when listening to this album is sit down in a quiet place and immerse yourself in the music and just soak it in and absorb the full potential of the album. The little things are really what make this album very special. The little bass and guitar counter melodies really make the synths pop out and leads to a much more enjoyable sound than most of the recent black metal that I have listened to. Another song I would like to point out is perhaps my favorite track on the album, “The Gibbet Elms”. First off it is an epic, averaging out at 11 minutes, and the music on it is awesome to be simply put. The drums really carry this song and this track is one of the first songs where you can really tell the presence of the drummer, Theutus. Also this song is has great peaks and valleys that make the song have lots of movement. But the reason why I like this song the most is because of the clean vocals.

The reason why I am usually turned off by black metal is because I despise the vocals. The normal black metal screams are few and far between on this album, and instead are replaced by death metal growls, chants, and yes, clean vocals. As I mentioned before “The Gibbet Elms” has great vocals, and this is because it features the cleanest vocals of any song on the album. Towards the end and in the beginning The Watcher shows off his real voice and it is a thing of beauty. His lower sound blends on perfectly with the synths and guitars to make for a great sound that would be pleasing to all ears. Another song that has good vocals on it is “Of Wilderness and Ruin” because is changes it up a bit. Besides the normal growls and screams there are some chants thrown in there that really change up the feel of the album, and increase its worth. And this review wouldn’t be complete without this writer saying something about the black metal screams. I have already stated before that I take no liking in them at all, but for this album I have made an acceptation. While they don’t enhance the album in my eyes they don’t detract from it at all, and that is good enough for me.

The production on this album is fantastic, mixing the highs and lows perfectly while still leaving room for the middle songs such as the bass and such. The sound on this album is almost reminiscent of early prog recordings but with a metal spin to them.

There’s not much more to say about this album other than, if you don’t already have it you should get it. Fen has made a great album that anyone could, and hopefully will enjoy. It’s amazing that we’re only in the third month of the year and I am almost positive that this album will stay in my top two of 2011. An easy 5 star rating is warranted here.
"Epoch" is the 2nd full-length studio album by UK black metal act Fen. The album was released in February 2011 by Code666. Fen registered on my radar with their great debut album "The Malediction Fields (2009)". A great atmospheric black metal album which incorporates elements from both post-rock and shoegaze.

...that´s also more or less how I would describe the music on "Epoch". It´s obvious that the band have grown quite a bit as songwriters though and what was great on the debut is now perfected here. The epic melancholic black metal atmospheres created by synths, bass, guitar and drums are simply astonishing in their bleak beauty and paired with the mellow shoegazing elements in the songs, this makes for quite the satisfying musical journey. The vocals by The Watcher varies between harsh black metal rasps, clean melancholic/ shoegaze type vocals and a few shouted vocals too. His delivery is strong and he shows here, that he is a skilled vocalist with many intriguing ideas. The production has to be mentioned here too, as it suits the music perfectly. It´s relatively raw and organic but not in a lo-fi way. The production does a great job of controlling the wall of sound the band create in the more raw black metal sections.

The musicianship is generally very strong on the album, but I have to give a special mention to drummer Theutus. Not only is his playing organic and very "human", which is something I greatly enjoy if it´s done like this, but he is also very inventive and does a great job at providing variation in the rythm department throughout the album. He is a reminder of how much a great drummer means to music. Another asset are the epic synths played by Æðelwalh. Majestic and beautiful.

The 8 track, 64:58 minute long album never fails to deliver. Not a dull moment in sight. For such a long album that´s quite the achivement IMO. Fen prove here that they are far from finished developing their sound and that we may expect even greater things on subsequent releases ( and that shouldn´t be misinterpreted as if "Epoch" isn´t a complete album, because it certainly is). The adventurous approach they have to writing songs is inspiring and while "Epoch" is sure to keep me busy for a long time, I can´t wait to hear what Fen will put in the brew next time. A 4.5 star rating is fully deserved. This one has the potential of becoming album of the year for me.
Epoch is a stunning second album from Fen; there's no sophomore jinx here. After making some waves with their 2009 debut, Fen has returned with Epoch - a monumental masterpiece to go down for the ages. This is one of the most beautiful, moving, and immersing records I have ever experienced, with melodies that will haunt your mind for weeks and riffs that should put other bands to shame. Although I do consider myself a black metal fan, I can't think of more than a few albums in the entire genre that I'd put up there with Epoch. What these Englishmen have created here is not only a great listen, but an essential masterpiece that no music collection is complete without. I may be handing out compliments left and right (and I will be for the rest of the review), but every one of them is wholeheartedly deserved. Try as I might, finding a weak spot on Epoch is a difficult task - one that I may never complete in this lifetime. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a serious contender for album of the year 2011 right here.

The music on Epoch is a perfect mix between lethal black metal and beautiful post rock. What that means is that there are tons of dark atmospheres, beautiful acoustics, and unbeatable dynamics on Fen's latest effort. Compositionally speaking, this album is impeccable, and manages to reach into the deepest emotional corridors of the human soul. Words fail when it comes to describing that "magical" feeling I get when hearing a masterpiece like "The Gibbet Elms". Epoch covers a wide spectrum of emotions, resulting in a bleak rollercoaster-ride of an album. It took a few tries for Epoch to completely sink in, even though I knew from first listen that I was in for something special. The musicians that make up Fen aren't very concerned about "showing off" (the album would be disastrous if they sacrificed emotion for endless noodling), but they prove their worth throughout Epoch. The guitar playing from The Watcher is especially notable - he has a magnificent style that is truly admirable. Just listen to some of his melodic playing in the title track and you'll get the gist of what I mean there. The synthesizers from Æðelwalh add a terrific atmosphere to the album, and give a slight symphonic flavor to Epoch.

The production is very raw and vintage sounding. This album combines the rawness of the black metal scene with the warmth of 70's prog rock, resulting in an amazing overall sound. I couldn't imagine Epoch any other way.

Although 2011 is still young, I'd be shocked if Epoch didn't make my top 5 list when December rolls around. What Fen has created here is not only a masterpiece of post black metal, but a monumental record to go down for the ages. Those who read my reviews know that I seldom use the 5 star option; yet it'd be criminal for me to do anything else here. Few albums in any genre manage to immerse me like Epoch. Not only is this a terrific album that any metal fan should own, it's honestly one of the finest black metal releases in its long and winding history. The feeling I get when listening to this album is unexplainable. This is one of the most magical and essential albums I own - I'd recommend anyone who likes music to check out this essential masterpiece.
So here it is - after the successful 2009 album The Malediction Fields, Fen returns with Epoch and shows no signs of decline; instead, they have crafted an over hour long journey that fuses elements of post-rock now perhaps more dominantly with the atmospheric nature themed black metal, and does it with great success. Once again. Epoch does take a lot time to open, though. I consciously avoided writing about the album for a long time, knowing that the first few listens - during which the album didn’t indeed sound very remarkable at all - wouldn’t be anywhere near the amount of spins that a band like Fen requires to open to its full glory.

What comes to Epoch’s production and overall atmosphere, it’s very reminiscent of the debut, sounding as distant and foggy, with an inclination to deep blue watery landscapes as the cover art suggests. Unusual time signatures are occasionally implemented to the music as well, but never in a way that would kill the hazy, dream-like mood. Enough repetition is given to such patterns, making them sound more like shamanistic trances building up to fantastic climaxes (hear the violin fuelled ending of the 11-minute ”Carrier of Echoes”) than anything purposely technical.

The way Fen manages to balance between bright sounding fragile post-rock passages and energetic black metal blast beats is still admirable. This becomes clear already in the beginning when the calmful title track’s transition to the heavier ”Ghosts of the Flood” seems to happen naturally without any annoyingly sudden changes in dynamics or sound levels. Every single track on the album seems to be of high value, always showing something new on each spin, so I think it’s unnecessary to start naming any particular highlight moments. If you’ve enjoyed Fen’s earlier material, Epoch is surely to grab your attention as well. So far the best 2011 album I’ve heard. Enough said.
Epoch is the second full-length effort by the United Kingdom’s Fen, released in 2011. The style of Fen’s music is a mix between black metal and post-rock which makes the music drift between some relaxing atmospherics to some more full on black metal, both are in all honesty at complete opposite ends of the musical spectrum but Fen seems to effortlessly switch between them creating quite the experimental sounding record and the results sound pretty good to my ears.

The thing is with the album that after a few tracks I can tell that this album is going to be an acquired taste; or rather it will acquire a listener with a wide range of tastes to fully appreciate Epoch. It’s that opposite ends of the spectrum thing again, someone who’s really into black metal may enjoy Epoch while Fen are really giving it some on their extreme side but find the post influences somewhat tedious, and vice versa.

I on the other hand have found this to be an extremely solid and atmospheric album, one that is certainly not generic in any way and I think it will please fans of the band’s previous album The Malediction Fields and should generally appeal to metal fans who are looking for something more out of the ordinary. My personally highlights from Epoch are The Gibbet Elms, Of Wilderness and Ruin, Half-light Eternal and Carrier of Echoes.

But really there is no bad track on here. The further into this album I get the more and more I realise what a true gem it is for those that can really get into the mix of styles that Fen plays. I’m very impressed by this release.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)

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