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FEN

Experimental/Post Metal • United Kingdom


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Fen biography
Formed in London, UK in 2006

FEN is a UK post/ experimental black metal act named after a region in England called The Fens where the band members grew up. The Fens is an area of marsh- and wetlands and is characterized by being a very flat and mysterious landscape. FEN find much of their inspiration in the atmosphere of this area.

The band consists of Grungyn ( bass, cries), Theutus ( drums), The Watcher ( voices, strings and woe) and Draugluin (keys, ambience).

The first release by the band was the Ancient Sorrow EP from 2007. FEN released an independent demo called Onset of Winter in November of 2008 before releasing their debut full-length studio album The Malediction Fields on the 16th of January 2009 through Aural Music/ Code666.

Their music is based in harsh black metal but has lots of ambient and epic elements as well as elements from post rock/ metal.

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FEN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

FEN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.14 | 56 ratings
The Malediction Fields
2009
3.92 | 141 ratings
Epoch
2011
3.79 | 20 ratings
Dustwalker
2013
3.92 | 18 ratings
Carrion Skies
2014
3.76 | 50 ratings
Winter
2017
4.00 | 6 ratings
The Dead Light
2019

FEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

FEN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

FEN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

FEN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 4 ratings
Ancient Sorrow
2007
4.50 | 4 ratings
Onset of Winter
2008
4.08 | 7 ratings
Towards the Shores of the End
2011

FEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Dead Light by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.00 | 6 ratings

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The Dead Light
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars "The Dead Light" by the UK Post Metal band Fen is the band's 6th full length album. The band is currently a trio made up of original band members Frank Allain (known as "The Watcher") on lead vocals and guitars, and Adam Allain (known as "Grungyn") on bass and vocals. The third member is known simply as "Havenless" on drums. This album consists of 8 tracks with a run time totaling close to one hour. There is a Luxus version of the CD with 3 bonus tracks included.

The music is dark and harsh, yet it also includes some long, more pensive moments that are close to a bleak sounding ambience. The vocals are mostly growling, but leaning more towards whispering then yelling. The music is quite excellent, full of nice heavy guitar and progressive drumming. As the album begins, it is led off with a somewhat pensive track called "Witness" that is quite dark and bleak, yet it still grabs your soul as it reaches for your darker recesses for almost 6 minutes, before it leads into the two-part black metal tracks "The Dead Light". Here the heaviness is emphasized through most of the track, though the drums stay at a steady moderate pace, the vocals become more apparent as both singer provide different dirty tones, almost as a growling harmonization. The two parts are separated by a softer interlude, but doesn't stay there for long as it emphasizes the instrumental themes of the two tracks, leaving the vocals out.

"Nebula" is much more progressive with style, mood and tempo changes apparent throughout the track. The drums are much more wild and approach djent styles at times, however, the vocals are both clean and dirty at different times, and the way the vocals are delivered is actually quite appealing and unique as the track moves smoothly through heavy and softer passages. The longest track "Labyrintine Echoes", which nears the 10 minute mark, has a post-metal jangle to it as the rhythm gets established and the music moves along surprisingly smoothly until a sudden outburst dials everything up several notches. Throughout the album, the music and vocals seem to carry a lot of the atmosphere of the folk metal of "Agalloch", but with more heaviness and not quite as bleak. The harshness becomes much heavier in this track as it continues, and the djent styles become more apparent in the drums. Up until the 6 minute mark, the music is probably the heaviest of the album, but after that, the music turns to a more experimental and ambient sound as the band softens its approach but still doesn't slack off on the darkness of the sound. The music again becomes intense as it builds back to the return of the vocals, and then returns to end on a softer section.

"Breath of Void" is quite relentlessly loud and extreme through its 6 minute run time, while the following track "Exsanguination" contains some softer passages and clean vocals mixed throughout the heavy passages and also provides a more complex and dynamic track. "Rendered in Onyx" lives up to it's title as in the beginning it meanders along with a murky ambience before the band kicks and wordless vocals provide a melodic sound to the music, and then the djent takes over. Again, this track moves smoothly and seamlessly from ambient sections to extreme passages without sounding chopped up like some of the more amateur dark metal bands do.

Though the album has a lot more dirty and growling vocals than what I usually care for, there is no denying the fact that the tracks are well-composed, progressive and the musicianship is top-notch. Those that love extreme prog will find plenty to love here, but, except for "Breath of Void", that level of extreme is not relentless. The music has plenty of room to breath and there is still a lot of dynamic usage in the album to keep the music from growing stale. The overall feel is murky, heavy, dark and solid, but still the band finds time to be pensive and ambient throughout the tracks. Be warned however that those who do not like dirty and growling vocals will find that there is an extensive use of this style throughout the album. Nevertheless, for a doom/black metal style, there is still enough ingenuity in the tracks to keep prog lovers engaged in the music, so I must give this album 4 stars.

 The Malediction Fields by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.14 | 56 ratings

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The Malediction Fields
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Though I found that the followup, Epoch, suffered from a little sophomore slump, I was impressed enough by Fen's Winter to want to go back and explore more of their discography, and I find that The Malediction Fields is a superior example of their early sound. It's still atmospheric black metal with some blackgaze elements, but what makes this a keeper for me is the slightly more prominent post-rock influences, making Fen a sort of UK answer to the likes of Agalloch. Deftly balancing harsher and more gentle musical stretches, Fen display a deft command of atmosphere here, which of course is the name of the game in this particular black metal subgenre.
 Winter by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.76 | 50 ratings

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Winter
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I hadn't found Fen's second album, Epoch, to be much of a keeper, feeling like it was riding along on the blackgaze bandwagon without really contributing much of its own. I'm very glad to find that on hearing this latest release of theirs I'm much more taken by their sound; perhaps they've improved and matured in terms of their overall atmospheric black metal mastery, or perhaps it's that the album shows a bit more original ambition this time. Constructed of one continuous multi-part suite, it takes the listener as promised on a journey through chilly landscapes - and whilst winter-themed black metal isn't something there's a shortage of, Fen's baroque, intricate take on it is a real treat.
 Winter by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.76 | 50 ratings

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Winter
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars Formed in early 2006 with the goal of producing Atmospheric Black Metal that incorporates elements of post-rock, Fen have, since then, found themselves at the vanguard of a resurgent UK Black Metal scene. With an EP, four full length albums, several splits and compilations to their name so far, this their latest full-length album (released March 2017) is their most ambitious to date, as they have combined Black metal with many other styles to create something that is very special indeed. Conceptually, they have returned to the roots of their ideology, seeking to embrace and distil all that inspired them when they first set out on this path over a decade ago ? that is, to invoke the ambience of bleak reflection and ancient sorrow that permeates the mysterious landscapes of the fens of Eastern England.

According to singer/guitarist The Watcher this album "very much describes a journey towards sanctity and redemption across a landscape steeped in mystery, hints of forgotten darkness and sorrows long since drowned in the distant past." There are six songs, but the only real way to play this album is to put it on at the beginning and be prepared for seventy-five minutes of music that will take you well away from the comfortable world you reside in, to a place that is far more barren and bleak, filled with foggy atmosphere and danger. How just three guys (The Watcher is joined by Havenless on drums and Grungyn on bass and vocals) can produce something as majestic and over the top of as this is just beyond me. It shows that although the Scandinavian countries seemed to have very much a stranglehold on this type of music for a long time, that is no longer the case. Fen have been going for ten years now, and they are just maturing and getting even better with age. The record label describes this as "atmospheric Black Metal and delicate, spacious cleans, married with aspects of 70s progressive rock, shoegaze and doom metal". I can make it much simpler than that. This is genius, nothing less.

 Carrion Skies by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.92 | 18 ratings

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Carrion Skies
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Carrion Skies' - Fen (75/100)

Any discourse I've had regarding 'post-black metal' doesn't last long without me bringing up Fen's second album, Epoch. The popular belief seems to be that their debut The Malediction Fields was a better record, but I stand by Epoch not only as Fen's best, but one of the (if not the) greatest post-black album ever made. To me, it was the fusion of precise songwriting and sonic vastness; whereas most bands would be lucky to succeed at one or the other, Fen were a rarity. To date, Epoch is one of that handful of albums that still begs me to listen to it, years since I first heard it.

There's no denying that unbeatable precedent has weighed heavily on the way I received Dustwalker, its 2013 successor, and now Carrion Skies. At first I loved Dustwalker, but a lacklustre second side has since dimmed my approval. I don't mean to infer that Carrion Skies is a bad album by any means, but with Fen's latest, my strongest reaction is one of disappointment, for the widening schism between the my idealized imagining of Fen, and the work they've actually been doing. Yet, Carrion Skies deserves to be heard; its merits nonetheless outreach its less subjective shortcomings, and though it falls short of the consistency and excellence I keep hoping to hear from this potentially world-class act, there are more than enough flashes of brilliance on the album to excuse Fen's less inspired moments.

In most senses, Carrion Skies represents a continuation of the approach and execution of Dustwalker. Once again, Fen are blessed with a pleasantly 'earthy' production, perhaps a nip murkier than Dustwalker, conjuring swampy images of the fens for which the band was so-named. If Epoch represented the aether and Dustwalker evoked earthly hardiness, let Carrion Skies be seen as their swampy equivalent; earth marred with the muddling effect of water. These superfluous associations with nature are unnecessary and pedantic, but it's only to Fen's credit that the images are evoked in the first place.

Musically, Carrion Skies is perhaps more riff-based than its predecessors, but the sound is instantly recognizable. Atmospheric black metal (with muddy reverb aplenty) and effective post-rock segues are once again the breadwinners of Fen's style. I might have hoped to hear some greater stylistic innovations over the course of four albums, but with a rare blessing of an already-identifiable style, switching things up is by no means an immediate concern for Fen. As such, most of my thoughts relating to the execution of Carrion Skies could just as well be transposed to any of their other works. I am usually as impressed by The Watcher's snarled vocals as much as I'm impressed by their surroundings. If the given passage feels evocative and purposeful, chances are the vocals will strike me the same way; ditto for whenever they dawdle. Fen's vocals (perhaps save for the effete cleans, about which I've had mixed views throughout their career) sound rightly placed in their black metal setting, although his aggressive delivery places The Watcher more along the lines of John Haughm's (of Agalloch) rasp than the average basement shrieker.

For better or worse, with the exception of the first and last tracks I remember the songs on Carrion Skies for particularly strong passages rather than the composition as a whole. The bending guitar part at the bass- heavy intro to "Our Names Written in Embers Pt. II" is very good. The mid-section of "Sentinels" has great lead riffs and cleverly atmospheric use of clean vocals. The build-up of "The Dying Stars" (accented with a brilliantly effective pick slide as the vocals emerge) possibly stands as the best passage on Carrion Skies. Even the post-rock introduction (a trope usually handled by bands with the same somnolent attitude they would approach wallpaper and how-to knitting videos) feels driven and motivated. With that excellent momentum, it's a shame that "The Dying Stars" seems to lose focus shortly thereafter, diving into a sleepy post-rock segue and re-emerging like a different song altogether. I get that impression from many of the songs here. There are masterpiece-worthy ideas here, but the songs they're part of are rarely perceptive enough to make full use out of them.

"Our Names Written in Embers Pt I" is a memorable track; nowhere near as powerful as Dustwalker's respective opener (and one of my favourite Fen tunes) "Consequence", but it's one such track with a pleasantly defined beginning, middle and end. However, nothing on the album could prepare for "Gathering the Stones". This track brings me back to the shock and awe I felt with Alcest's "Delivrance" earlier this year, a spectacular end to an otherwise underwhelming album. The central motif is run through a series of stages, each one more enticing than the last. It's a gorgeous monument that highlights Fen's skills with melody and atmosphere alike. Unlike much of the album, "Gathering the Stones" identifies its best ideas and actually [%*!#]ing sticks to them. Whereas the rest of the album was generally a frustration in that regard, "Gathering the Stones" sees it realized beautifully. This is the Fen I wanted to hear. If anything, it goes to show that Fen's potential can be seen on every album; the resulting quality of each album is determined by how much of the album is defined by that potential.

In more ways than one, I've linked this album to the recent fare by Agalloch, The Serpent & The Sphere. Not only do the bands overlap stylistically (they've toured together, if I'm not mistaken); in both cases I expected masterpieces in keeping with their past work, and both times the result was an otherwise solid album that fell short of the game-changer I was hoping for. Carrion Skies is the least impressive album from Fen so far, and in a sense, saying that should only serve to emphasize what a strong career they have had up until now.

 Dustwalker by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 20 ratings

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Dustwalker
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

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. www.auralmusic.com

 Dustwalker by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 20 ratings

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Dustwalker
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

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.

 Dustwalker by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 20 ratings

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Dustwalker
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Dustwalker by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.79 | 20 ratings

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Dustwalker
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by EatThatPhonebook
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Epoch by FEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.92 | 141 ratings

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Epoch
Fen Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

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.

Thanks to UMUR for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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