Since their debut in 2007, UK atmospheric black metallers Fen have risen to become one of the leading charges in a burgeoning UK scene, and nearly two years on from their last album ‘Epoch’, they return early in the year of thirteen with their third full-length, ‘Dustwalker’, with new drummer Derwydd joining core members The Watcher (guitar, vocals) and Grungyn (bass, vocals). Fans of the band’s debut were a little split over the post-rock elements in their sound, and those who preferred their favourite version of Fen to be raw, like their debut ‘The Malediction Fields’ will initially find their hopes raised by ‘Consequence’, the opening track which doesn’t waste time in setting afoot its eight minute-course – though the denser atmospheric elements of ‘’Epoch’ loom large. And its those dense layers of fog and nightshade are soon awash throughout the album. I for one, couldn’t be happier – for excellent a track ‘Consequence’ is, the rest of the album is just as good if not better. The sound is relatively polished but that doesn’t detract from what is still an adequately savage yet astutely crafted work.
Fen – Consequence
As it progresses, it soon becomes evident that this is arguably Fen’s best work yet. Arguably, because black metal is that most contested of genres, over which any attempt to subvert its traditional form is severely scrutinized. Very unfair, if you ask me, because as metal fans, we should all be used to this progression from now on. But still, everything from the band markedly improves from what they’ve done previously. The post-rock elements of their sound have significantly tightened up and really are something to behold – the way tracks like ‘Hands of Dust’ and ‘Walking the Crowpath’ are allowed to ebb and flow gently before exploding in a torrid storm; the gloom of ‘Spectre’ – the clean vocals, something of a sticking point on previous works, sound much improved and perfectly at ease with their surroundings.
Its too early to talk about stand out albums at this time of year, but pending a bad memory, don’t be surprised to see Fen in the shake-up. This is their finest work yet and firmly establishes them among the top of the new wave of British black metal bands this country is now producing. If it sounds this good on record, I really cannot wait to see what it sounds like in a live setting.