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Fen: Winter

Winter is a perfect name for this new release from UK atmospheric black metal act Fen, out now on Aural Music imprint Code666. Containing six movements that are intended to be digested as a whole rather than separate songs, Winter uses a black metal framework but is also sprinkled with elements of vintage progressive rock, doom, and shoegaze. If you look at the track list below, you can see just how epic the structure of the album is, and the music is just as monumental. At just over 17-minutes, the first movement, "Pathway", starts things off in fine fashion, the trio moving from raging black metal to eerie atmosphere seamlessly, with bits of complex prog thrown in for good measure. Great to hear the bass upfront in the mix too, something you don't always experience in black metal these days. It's once again prominent on the raging yet textured "Penance", a track that, if you close your eyes, creates images of being on a deserted mountain amid a furious storm at apex of its assault. As the storm starts to subside, in comes "Fear", a dramatic slice of progressive black metal, the drums nimble, the guitars textured, and the bass melodic, before it once again kicks back into high gear, eventually giving way to the alluring "Interment". I'm almost reminded here of early Rush, the guitars and bass weaving intricate patterns around each other, the focus though much more in the 'prog' camp than metal at the outset, with delicate patterns slowly building to more furious riffing and eventual black metal blasting, the use of clean vocals a nice touch. "Death" is violent and harsh, grizzled rasps colliding with huge riffs and complex rhythms, before the melancholy "Sight" closes out the album, with elements of post-rock and prog drifting through the haze, the violence all but tempered as the listener is finally able to see spring making its appearance after the brutal winter. But don't worry, the band have one last flurry of bombastic black metal before it's all said and done.

Well crafted and fascinating, Winter is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, and I recommend you take it all in on one uninterrupted sitting, which is how it was intended. Not your everyday black metal for sure, Fen are a band creating music for those with adventurous tastes, and this latest is a complete winner.

Track Listing
1. I (Pathway) 17:08
2. II (Penance) 10:02
3. III (Fear) 10:36
4. IV (Interment) 14:52
5. V (Death) 12:40
6. VI (Sight) 09:44

Added: March 25th 2017
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1561
Language: english

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