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Fen: Epoch

Carrier of Echoes

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 elwalh 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.

Conclusion:

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.


Track 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)

Added: March 7th 2011
Reviewer: Jeff B
Score:
Related Link: Fen Myspace
Hits: 2244
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Fen: Epoch
Posted by Brian Block, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-03-07 18:56:04
My Score:

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 newest album I had listened to the hype and expected great things. And I pretty much got what I wanted. With great atmospheric passages and heavy riffs replacing each other seamlessly "Epoch" almost immediately caught my attention and kept it there every time I listened. Needless to say Fen has created an amazing album that is almost a lock to take "Album of the Year 2011".

One thing that really made me like this album was the musicians on the album. They catch your attention right off the bat with a great atmospheric opening to the album in the title track "Epoch". The synths, played by elwalh, are absolutely superb throughout the title track and the whole album. One thing that Fen does exceptionally is transfer from light airy melodies to killer heavier riffs that are so good. This difference between dark and mysterious and light and innocent sounding tracks makes for a very enjoyable experience. One of the best things to do when listening to this album is sit down in a quiet place and immerse yourself in the music and just soak it in and absorb the full potential of the album. The little things are really what make this album very special. The little bass and guitar counter melodies really make the synths pop out and leads to a much more enjoyable sound than most of the recent black metal that I have listened to. Another song I would like to point out is perhaps my favorite track on the album, "The Gibbet Elms". First off it is an epic, averaging out at 11 minutes, and the music on it is awesome to be simply put. The drums really carry this song and this track is one of the first songs where you can really tell the presence of the drummer, Theutus. Also this song is has great peaks and valleys that make the song have lots of movement. But the reason why I like this song the most is because of the clean vocals.

The reason why I am usually turned off by black metal is because I despise the vocals. The normal black metal screams are few and far between on this album, and instead are replaced by death metal growls, chants, and yes, clean vocals. As I mentioned before "The Gibbet Elms" has great vocals, and this is because it features the cleanest vocals of any song on the album. Towards the end and in the beginning The Watcher shows off his real voice and it is a thing of beauty. His lower sound blends on perfectly with the synths and guitars to make for a great sound that would be pleasing to all ears. Another song that has good vocals on it is "Of Wilderness and Ruin" because is changes it up a bit. Besides the normal growls and screams there are some chants thrown in there that really change up the feel of the album, and increase its worth. And this review wouldn't be complete without this writer saying something about the black metal screams. I have already stated before that I take no liking in them at all, but for this album I have made an acceptation. While they don't enhance the album in my eyes they don't detract from it at all, and that is good enough for me.

The production on this album is fantastic, mixing the highs and lows perfectly while still leaving room for the middle songs such as the bass and such. The sound on this album is almost reminiscent of early prog recordings but with a metal spin to them.

There's not much more to say about this album other than, if you don't already have it you should get it. Fen has made a great album that anyone could, and hopefully will enjoy. It's amazing that we're only in the third month of the year and I am almost positive that this album will stay in my top two of 2011. An easy 5 star rating is warranted here.




» Reader Comments:

Fen: Epoch
Posted by ? on 2011-03-18 09:01:15
My Score:

Awesome album. Fen is such a great band!




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