To go along with a couple of our recent Black Friday posts, Fen are another dreary black metal band who draws their tortured creativity from trees and marshes and stuff. They uniquely blend cold, gray black metal with jangly, melodic postrock riffing. I just listened to the band’s 2011 album “Epoch” over again in its entirety and, though not sure, feel like I have seasonal depression in July. Read on for some epically somber tracks.
The guitars are a destorted melodic, often strummed affair and the vocals are mid-pitched rasp with the occasional low growl. Acoustic guitars and semi-clean vocals blend seamlessly with the more chaotic moments. The keys are a variety of strings and other chordophone instruments. They sound deep and genuine, usually backing up the melodic direction of a riff but sometimes brilliantly taking the centerstage as on Epoch’s longest and most epic track, “Carries of Echoes”. The track even includes a great bass solo. Throw on this jam while I serenade you with the remainder of my prose.
My one complaint with this band is that, in the pursuit of progressive black metal, they lose some coherence in song structure and the drums end up being somewhat in front of the tonal hum of the guitars and keyboards. In fact, these come across better live. Moreover, they generally seem to pull of their music very well live as seen in the video of the band performing the title track and “Ghosts of the Flood” from their newest album. Though they succeed in their pursuit of dragging the listener out into the middle of an antioasis of desolation, this feeling of hopelessness also crosses the line into an occasional lack of direction. However, I think very audible and melodic bass lines make up for this. Usually, metal that flirts with postrock/shoegaze elements is a no-go for me as I’m not into coffee shop metal, but the strummy, melodic postrock riffing is actually one of the more charming aspects of the bands work as it does bring about the onset of the damp melancholy atmospheres that the band is clearly striving for. This is good for fans of Wolves In The Room, Negura Bunget and even fans of Mastadon that maybe have had their ricemilk, cinnamon latte spilled all over their new flannel shirt and are looking for something darker to express their abyssal sorrow. I’m teasing. This band is pretty dope but makes me want to go sit in the sauna after a lengthy listen, which I think is the point.