2. Ghosts Of The Flood
3. Of Wilderness and Ruin
4. The Gibbet Elms
5. Carrier of Echoes
6. Half-Light Eternal
7. A Waning Solace
Many years ago, I was blown away by an up and coming band's debut called Pale Folklore. That release mixed a blend of atmospheric black metal with some shoegazer tendencies (though I didn't particularly identify it at the time) to a fine result. Unfortunately that band ate some Pretentious Pie and ultimately became an utter bore, but the general style has captivated me ever since. These days there is a plentiful supply of bands worldwide who have digested both Slowdive and Emperor, creating a fairly new side avenue to the oversaturated glut of black metal bands out there. Case in point is Fen, a British outfit who isn't scared to let their post-rock melancholy shine through on Epoch.
The band's style incorporates the "treble heavy" aspects of black metal with the reverberating echos of shoegazing rock. The band generally sticks to harsh vocals, though they do slip in some clean singing here and there. To some degree, there's a tendecy for parts of Epoch to sound a bit by the numbers, but they also have the ability to suddenly toss in a great subtle melody or hook that one might not necessarily associate with black metal. "The Gibbet Elms" shifts gears halfway through the song and makes one sit up and pay rapt attention with a great changeup. As far as blatant influence goes, Fen completely shows their hand on the intro of "Half-Light Eternal", which is very obviously a tip of the hat to Slowdive. Fortunately, it's a good tip of the hat.
Naturally, an album called Epoch does have the tendency to go on a bit too long. Fen occasionally should consider nipping certain passages or songs in the bud rather than go overlong. But in general, Epoch stays mostly interesting throughout its duration. And even though they don't waver too much throughout the album with their style, their ability to weave together melodies and utilize atmosphere helps the album from avoiding being stale within its first two tracks.
Fen most likely will continue to get better in the future. But in the meantime, this is a very solid record worth seeking out for fans of this general style.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 06/2011