Fen is a band I first heard about in a rather odd UK black metal documentary from a year or so back and today I got hold of their fifth LP, Winter on a very pretty translucent green vinyl. This album was made to be listened for the full 76 minutes and is split into 6 separate tracks which intertwine through smooth transitions.
The first track of the album is the epic, seventeen minute “I (Pathway)” which smarts with gentle guitars and drums before “The Watcher” (very dramatic) unleashes his black metal-esque screams and distorted guitar riffs and keeps this up until around 7 minutes in where the band slows down to another tranquil guitar melody.
The next track, “II (Penance) , follows suit with a slower start but quickly gets more aggressive with one of the best riffs on the album and some very eerie vocals throughout. In my opinion this is best track on the album and is the only one to have a video featuring some local landmarks including Ely Cathedral. Its a small world.
Both “III (Fear)” and “IV (Internment)” showcase how good this band is at creating mood through intricate instrumental before getting fast heavy again. The penultimate track, “V (Death), is probably the heaviest with use of furious drum blast beats and droning riffs.
This is then contrasted by the final track, “VI (Sight)”, which reels the album in before a final outbreak which intensifies to the end of the album with riffs that you heard on earlier tracks.
So what’s the verdict? I think this album is definitely praise worthy, it is clear the band meticulously crafted these songs and made an amazing experience which really encapsulates the feeling of dark, cold winters however my gripe would be the length. I understand that Fen didn’t exactly intend for a mass consumer audience however I felt my attention going after the hour mark, not to mention this edition had a D side of bonus tracks. A test of endurance but well worth it. Pick it up here.
“Freezing hands reach – coiling, cloying. My name is but dust and I flee again.”