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Fen Epoch album cover
3.90 | 147 ratings | 13 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Epoch (6:18)
2. Ghosts of the Flood (6:25)
3. Of Wilderness and Ruin (6:30)
4. The Gibbet Elms (8:18)
5. Carrier of Echoes (8:22)
6. Half-Light Eternal (10:38)
7. A Waning Solace (9:51)
8. Ashbringer (8:34)

Total Time: 64:58

Bonus tracks on 2016 double-LP reissue :
9. The Wind Whispers Of Loss (8:19)
10. ...From The Mists (4:37)

Line-up / Musicians

- The Watcher (Frank Allain) / guitars, lead & backing vocals, producer
- Æðelwalh / synthesizers, backing vocals
- Grungyn (Adam Allain) / bass, backing vocals
- Theutus / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Adam Allain

CD Code666 ‎- Code051 (2011, Italy)

2xLP Code666 ‎- CODE051v (2016, Italy) Remaster by Greg Chandler w/ 2 bonus tracks, new cover

Thanks to sleeper for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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FEN Epoch ratings distribution

(147 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

FEN Epoch reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by J-Man
5 stars 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.

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Epoch' - Fen (9/10)

Following hot on the heels of their acclaimed debut album 'The Malediction Fields', UK- based black metal act Fen's second work 'Epoch' promises to deliver the same powerful blend of raw atmosphere and beauty that has made the band among the most promising of the up-and-coming metal bands. Combining post-rock, folk and black metal in much the same way as established bands like Agalloch and Drudkh have done, these young Englishmen may have released the best album I have heard so far this year.

The style Fen plays is not largely unfamiliar for a fan of atmospheric black metal, but the way that Fen does it deserves all possible praise. Although a raw album at first glance, several deeply engaging, almost spiritual listens of 'Epoch' really lift the veil to show the grace and dynamic of the music here. As can be heard on the album's first truly brilliant song 'Ghosts Of The Flood', Fen have quickly established themselves as masters of the dark/light contrast. Heavy and blistering guitars will erupt under the powerful rasps of The Watcher, before lowering into a smooth, equally melancholic but more melodic and beautiful quieter moment. Then, the black metal elements return once again, creating an absolutely enchanting wave of sound. While this formula has been made famous by such acts as Opeth a good twenty years before this, Fen's adoption of shoegaze and overtly atmospheric mellow sections makes the dynamic really work for them, feeling much more than a mere gimmick to sound artistic.

From a largely instrumental and slowly building title track, 'Epoch' eases the listener into their magical world through a title track that works more like an introduction to the rest of the album, moreso than a legitimate song of it's own. Building intentionally to 'Ghosts Of The Flood', the title track makes the second song hit the listener like a slug from a railgun, but all in all, 'Epoch' does drag on a bit longer than an introduction should. The fact that the album is a tad slow to get going is this masterpiece's only real weakness. While the use of clean vocals here is generally used beautifully in the context of Fen's shoegazer elements, they do sound a bit weak and amateurish when compared to the epic growls the band displays on the heavier front.

While this is an atmospheric black metal album first and foremost, the album is made only more powerful and more evocative through its mesh of less aggressive sound. With such absolutely gorgeous depressive epics as 'Half Light Eternal' and 'Carrier Of Echoes' to grace my ears, I can only say that 'Epoch' is a masterpiece, despite its small blemishes. Although the beginning of a new year usually feels void of truly excellent albums, I would not be surprised if Fen's 'Epoch' is seen near the top of the best metal albums released in 2011.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "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 - 5 star rating is fully deserved. This one has the potential of becoming album of the year for me.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars While I, too, am not much of a fan of black metal, doom metal or even metal, I have become more 'used to' the vocal stylings (thanks to the likes of MAUDLIN OF THE WELL, AGALLOCH, and ALCEST) of this music--as long as the music is good. And this is GREAT music! Even a notch above ALCEST's 2010 gem, "Écailles De Lune." The difference is in the changes in tempo, key and even, sometimes, sound and structure within each song. Plus, as one reviewer already put it, I love the 1970's 'feel' to the recording/production (especially the drums!). Some absolutely beautiful, deeply affecting music the lyrics of which I have yet to try to figure out (and, frankly, could really care less about: it's the music that reigns supreme for me!) I don't yet have a favorite (though "Of Wilderness and Ruin" is incredible!) There is such a great, almost seamless, flow and continuity to the album, from start to finish, I don't think any one song is that much better or worse than any other and may in fact all need each other to be able to attain the effect of transporting the listener to such a distant planet as it does. One reviewer also mentioned how this album exhibits the way in which a truly excellent drummer can elevate an album to such incredible heights. I couldn't agree more. Nothing too flashy, just great rhythm which, you can tell, is 'the glue that binds.' Love the band members' names!

***** 5 star songs: ALL . . . but "Carrier of Echoes," which earns, IMO, 4 stars.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 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. 3.5 stars

Review by EatThatPhonebook
4 stars 8/10

"Epoch" is a Black Metal album for the ages.

It's nice seeing that, even though being still at the beginning of the year, we see so many 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.

Fen are an English band that released their debut in 2009, "The Malediction Fields", and have clearly evolved with "Epoch": this album is full of intensity, but also crushing beauty. Many bands have accomplished this before, but not too many at these levels; modern Atmospheric Black Metal basically at it's peak. The songs have a very complex and hard-to-follow structure, making this a very challenging album at times. The beauty that comes from these can be subtle or completely in your face, but it's always present, even in the harsher moments, which are really dense with reverb and strong, yet always distant sounding vocals, as well as powerful drums. The beauty though would have occurred less if the atmosphere and the sound weren't so full of details and precise, making it an extremely thick aura. Influences are noticeable especially from Shoegaze (Blackgaze apparently is the result) and Post-Rock.

Nature and man, of course, are the main topics for Fen, and always have been. But the lyrics on this album are very evocative in a very particular way, and give the feeling that "Epoch" was born from primordial stone, by the winds, and by the oceans. Again, the primeval attitude is not new in Black Metal, but never it was brought up with such a fierce and obscure sense of modernity at the same time, perhaps because of many Post-Rock influences floating around.

Solid as a rock, Fen range with these eight songs into various moods, without losing that enchanting aura of beauty: the title track opens the album with a very tense feeling, and explodes completely with the next song, the astonishingly brutal "Ghosts Of the Flood". "Of Wilderness And Ruin" and "The Gibbet Helms" are both very memorable and beautifully mix the harsh moments with the mellow ones. "Carrier Of Echoes" might just be the masterpiece of the band, basically the perfect song of the album, it contains all the qualities we've heard, but puts them on an even more epic level, exploring new territories and soundscapes. The second half of the album is even more complex, the songs even harder to follow because so densely rooted to the atmosphere, but just as remarkable.

"Epoch" is a Black Metal album for the ages: an instant classic for anyone who likes their BM mixed with different external elements such as Shoegaze and Post Rock.

Review by Negoba
3 stars Dark Music for Very Specific Moods

I picked up Fen's EPOCH due to many recommendations here on PA, and numerous glowing reviews. Atmospheric black-metal / shoegaze / post-rock hybrid music is an ambitious undertaking, and I must admit that some of the elements just don't work for me. Despite the protests of modern metal lovers, I must comment on the vocals. While I describe typical death metal deep harsh vocals as dragonvoice, most black metal singers sound like orcs or some minor evil creatures cringing and spitting from a safe distance. Combined with the dirty, lo-fi ethic of traditional black metal, this style can work. But I still think that using this as the lead tonality in a textured music such as what Fen is producing (or yes even sacred cow Agalloch) just doesn't work. As an accent element, yes. But the goth-y, clean, low male vocal that I typically associate with this style of music works much better in my opinion. But any music that revolves around such a limited vocal style is going to have a ceiling for me. Such is the case here.

Fen does not use black goblinvoice exclusively. There are a few different clean vocal styles and occasional deeper death-style growls. The variation helps. But for the most part, it is the instrumental work that most attracts my attention. The processed clean guitar opening of the title track is very promising, setting the mood perfectly. The sixteenth note black rhythm guitar style combines with the post-rock seamlessly. There is a very interesting guitar line in 7 that punctuates "Carrier of Echoes." This prog-y is a breath of fresh air and I wish there had been more of this throughout the album. Along with "The Gibbet Elms" these tracks are the only ones that truly grab me and make me tune in. Unfortunately, on other songs, I often get lost in the wash of guitar and indistinct vocals and fail to notice even when one track ends and the next begins.

I have listened to this album at least 12-15 times and I'd rather listen to it 100 times before even Agalloch's THE MANTLE even once. Take this as a testament to the quality of the music. If you tolerate or even like black metal vocals, then this album will probably reward you to the full extent of the other glowing reviews here. There is some great stuff here, and yes this may be the best album of its kind. But this particular combo of styles has inherent limits in audience and even an eclectic like me needs to be in a very specific mood to resonate with it. I will keep my ears open to what these guys do in the future.

Review by sleeper
5 stars As I write this review we are only just coming up to the half way point of 2011 and I dont know about anyone else, but I'm certainly finding it to be a good year for prog music. But, whilst I'm finding a lot of albums that are of a high quality, very few have blown me away. In fact, with the possible exception of the recently released Unexpect album (Fables of the Sleepless Empire) there is really only one album that has really got my attention and held it closely play after play, month after month and it's this one, Fen's second full length album Epoch.

For those that don't know, Fen are an atmospheric Black Metal band hailing from Britain playing in a style sometimes known as Post-Black Metal. Now, these days every genre imaginable has a post-whatever counterpart genre out there and I doubt I'm the only one that finds it a bit annoying and, well, lazy, and Post-Black Metal is one of those that I dont agree with. However, Fen are the first of these bands that I feel truly earns such a title, if one was needed, by incorperating elements of Post Rock into their brand Black Metal. They had done this on their debut album The Malediction Fields, but in a rather subtle way so taht it didnt jump out at the listener but the melding of styles has been increased here on Epoch with many songs utilizing guitar and keybaord passages that bring to mind Mono's most recent album, Hymn to the Immortal Wind, without ever getting close to plagerising the Japanese act. And though I'm not really a Post Rock fan I've got to say I love this, it seems to give Fen a sound of their own and allows them to stand out from the atmospheric metal crowd, a genre that is fast becoming bloated and filled with increasingly similar sounding bands.

In my review of the bands debut album I'd pointed out that one of its very few flaws was that several of the songs had openings that seemed far too similar to each other, making it difficult to distinguish between a couple of the tracks as you start listening to them but this is problem they have completely done away with as their composition and song writing skills have improved in the intervening time. Of the other two problems I noted in that review, both seem to have been addressed as well. One or two of the songs on The Malediction Fields, most notably Bereft, felt like they had been extended too far, going beyond the materiel they had to create that music but its a problem that never comes up here on Epoch, even the longest two tracks Half-Light Eternal and A Waning Solace feel perfectly developed from the ideas that spawn them. Lastly, the production is an improvement as well. Epoch takes the typical raw and distinctly unpolished sound that is so dominant in Black Metal but its very clear that its intended rather than just poor recording as each instrument is excellently mixed so that I have no problem with hearing each indavidual instrument and, unlike on The Malediction Fields, at no point does the sound become muddy either, its all very clear and, very importantly, well spaced out creating an effect that I feel like I'm being enveloped by the music.

The ability of the musicians is not to be underestimated as well. Other reviewers have already mentioned the prevailent skills of drummer Theatus in not just his excellent chops but also the way he feels the music and its no understatment to say that his playing contributes a lot the impact a lot of the music has. The bass playing og Grungyn proovs the perfect foil to Theatus drumming, solidly holding down the rhythm section whilst taking available chances to extend his bass lines into the melody and provide a regular counterpoint to the powerful and epic guitar playing of The Watcher. New recruite Æðelwalh on keyboards provides the final piece of the puzzel in that his sound scapes provide a solid backing to the melodies and actually enjoy a far greater prescence than that of his predecessor. All four of them are without doubt excellent musicians, and in the cases of Grungyn and Theatus I'd go so far as to say they are the best musicians on their respective instruments in all of the atmospheric Black Metal scene, but without doubt the strength of this album lies in the fact that the sum of the whole is definitely greater than that of its parts.

Regardless of what I'm listening to there is always one thing that determines an exceptional album and thats its emotional impact on me as I listen to it and thats what this album does brilliantly. Epoch contains moments and passages of absolute beauty and brutal heaviness in almost every song and several moments where the distinction between the two gets blured seemlesly with the best examples probably being the endings of the epic Half-Light Eternal and Carrier of Echoes. Unfortunetly (or not, depending on your view), that emotional impact is not something that can be quantified by numbers or defined in words, but for Epoch its a certain something that makes me smile all the way through the album everytime I hear. The impact of passages like the opening of Ghost of the Flood or the middle section of The Gibbet Elms make me stop what I'm doing for a moment and just listen, and I've been listening to this album a lot over the last five months.

Words like beatiful, raw, brutal, epic, powerful, melencholic, uplifting and probably many others all go together to describe this album. It is definitely a dark, melencholic album that containes some very brutal and harsh moments, but its ofset by the fact that it seems to give a sense of hope to counter the melencholy, that the harshness is offset with its moments of beauty and power and of course it all melds together so that the overiding description of this album is that its simply epic. Best tracks on this album are probably The Gibbet Elms, Half-Light Eternal, Carrier of Echoes and A Waning Solace though the quality of all 8 tracks is so close that trying to pick out favourites almost becames a task in futility. Epoch is far and away the best album released so far in 2011 and will prove to be a very difficult album to top for any other band this year. More than that, its quickly establishing itself amongst my all time favourite albums, one of those that I can go back to again and again almost regardless of my mood and get something out of the listening experience, definitely a masterpiece.

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fen's second album doesn't deviate significantly from their debut, but their outside influences such as shoegaze and post rock have gained a bit of ground here to mesh with the atmospheric black metal while not softening their aggression. The individual tracks play out like sonic journeys in which the shifts in style tend to flow rather than jar thanks to the miasmic production that envelopes Epoch.

The shimmering and frequently buzzsaw toned guitars take center stage, lurching from melodic gloomy jangly passages to sonic bombast effortlessly with many of the riffs being memorable while not overstaying their welcome. Synth washes back up the guitars by adding atmosphere yet not overpowering them by any fashion. My favorite element of this band has been the rhythm section, in which the drumming remains unpredictable and technically impressive without being overbearing. Bass playing, as with their debut, is their ace up the sleeve, but unfortunately for me it's not as prominent in the mix, though still audible.

The production in general is my only concern with this sophomore effort. Not just the bass, but vocals tend to be mixed a bit low, resulting in the clean vocal sections where The Watcher's dreamy delivery gets buried to the point of frustration at times, and the rasps possess less of an echo, sacrificing some of the haunting majestic ambiance in the process. The drums, despite being a highlight, are engineered with an almost gunshot sounding snare, which took some getting used to as well.

As compositions, the band continues to excel at their craft, heightening their sense of adventure to a small degree while remaining as ferocious as ever. There's no shoegaze ballad track you can coax your non-metal friend to enjoy; every tune at some point goes ballistic. I can't say Epoch is an improvement over The Malediction Fields, since to me their prior release was produced to a raw perfection concerning their aims of conjuring swampy and foreboding landscapes through extreme metal, but fans of the genre and those who like Floydian elements juxtaposed with Starbucks crowd clearing walls of sound will find much to enjoy here.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Epoch of raw beauty Yes, Fen has a new fanatic. I haven't been so excited about an extreme metal band since discovering Opeth, that means since 2005! The music these guys play is absolutely haunting, beautiful and intriguing extreme metal, deeply rooted in black side of the genre. Did I mention t ... (read more)

Report this review (#570587) | Posted by bartosso | Friday, November 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Simply put, I never was a fan of black metal until I discovered this band and heard this album. The instrumentation on this album is amazing. I love how the songs seem to string together and make the album feel like one long piece. Every time I play this album, it seems I "accidently" liste ... (read more)

Report this review (#466051) | Posted by Izek | Tuesday, June 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars First of all I must confess I'm not a fan of black metal, although I have no prejudice against any kind of music. Nevertheless I really can not understand what's so special about this overrated, harsh and uninspired album. Nothing remained inside me after 65 minutes of attentive listening to t ... (read more)

Report this review (#430128) | Posted by Avtokrat | Sunday, April 10, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 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 new ... (read more)

Report this review (#412530) | Posted by The Block | Monday, March 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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