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Fen - Epoch CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.91 | 144 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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.

Negoba | 3/5 |


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