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 Æðelwalh 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.
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.
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)