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Fen Dustwalker album cover
3.79 | 20 ratings | 4 reviews | 26% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dustwalker (7:56)
2. Hands Of Dust (11:39)
3. Spectre (10:29)
4. Reflections (1:49)
5. Wolf Sun (7:10)
6. The Black Sound (10:08)
7. Walking The Crowpath (13:16)

Total time 62:27

Bonus tracks on 2017 double-LP reissue :
8. Epilogue (4:23)
9. Resound Of Gjallarhorn (4:22)

Line-up / Musicians

- The Watcher (Frank Allain) / guitar, lead vocals, producer
- Grungyn (Adam Allain) / bass, backing vocals
- Derwydd (Paul Westwood) / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Adam Allain

CD Code666 ‎- Code075 (2013, Italy)

2xLP Code666 ‎- CODE075v (2017, Italy) Remaster by Greg Chandler w/ 2 bonus tracks, new cover

Thanks to finnforest for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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FEN Dustwalker ratings distribution

(20 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(53%)
Good, but non-essential (11%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

FEN Dustwalker reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by EatThatPhonebook
2 stars 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.

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars '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.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "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 ''elwalh 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.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars There may have been a slight line-up change since 2011's 'Epoch' with drummer Theutus having been replaced by Derwydd (the trio are completed by The Watcher vocals/guitar and Grungyn bass/vocals) but this is very much a continuation of where they were before as opposed to a new direction. Like many others I was incredibly impressed by 'Epoch' which brought in a desolation and bleakness not normally heard outside of Norway, and here the guys are back again with Black Metal that is being taken to a whole new level. Remember, these guys are from the fens in England not an isolated fjord yet they manage to bring in a real sense of loss and despair.

This is the first release of a new three album deal with Code666 and I bet the label are well- pleased with his outing. From atmospheric gentle keyboards and riffs to something far more hellish this really is an album that shows that British BM can be just as unforgiving and dynamic as that from the European mainland. The more one listens to this the more there is to hear, with a simple complexity that is going to gain this band a lot of praise. Evil comes to those who wait and there is a foreboding and presence in this music that contains plenty of that.

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