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Fen - Epoch CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.91 | 146 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
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.

Prog Sothoth | 4/5 |


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