Album: Stone and Sea (EP)
Genre: Black Metal
Country: United Kingdom
Release Date: March 8th, 2019
Back in 2016, Fen teamed up with the post-black metal band Sleepwalker to deliver the split EP ‘Call of Ashes/Stone and Sea’. Now in 2019, Eisenwald records have taken Fen’s 3 tracks from that EP in order to re-master them specifically for a vinyl format. As an aside, I would like to first recommend anyone that has not heard the full split EP to give it a listen. There is a reason Fen chose Sleepwalker to share their respective music with the split EP. However, being that the upcoming release is only featuring Fen’s part, this review will focus on those 3 songs.
Now, Fen’s music can be quite diverse and the band has done a great job in developing theirs sound since their debut, ‘The Malediction Fields’ back in 2009. Ranging from traditional atmospheric black metal sounds to eventual inclusion of shoegaze/post-metal elements and even more traditional death metal elements in their music, their music is diverse, haunting and very distinct. ‘Stone and Sea’, even though it technically came out a year before the ‘Winter’ (2017) release, has a sound that is closer to Fen’s first couple of records rather than their current ones.
The short EP starts with “Tides of Glass” a beautiful set of arpeggiated chords that are joined straight away by the distorted guitar and drums. What really caught my attention was the clean, flat vocals that make way the harsher ones. I’ve only been listening to Fen for a couple of months now and although I became aware of the band by listening to ‘Winter’, it is the frantic sound and dichotomy of a song such as this one, that made me really stop and pay attention to what the band was trying to do. Much like the EP artwork may suggest, this music is about finding beauty in upheaval or change, and I find Fen’s music to be really good at conveying that feeling.
The next song is the instrumental “Stone & Sea”. Like sailing across a desolate landscape, there is a fear of the unknown but also an indescribable sense of adventure. Somber chords and arpeggiated strumming shift into more hopeful sounding ones with the aid of some not-so traditional percussion playing all which build up into the beginning of the final song, “The Last Gravestone”.
This last song explodes with a very punctuated beginning. A groove is found and a melancholic choral melody soars over the guitars before developing into the trademark black metal frenzy. Clean vocals eventually enter as chaos of the underlying instruments continues before coming to a head again, with a furious melancholy, before settling into somber departing chords that mark the end of the EP.
This is a 3-song EP that should be a must buy for any fans of Fen or fans of modern black metal. The music sounds great while still maintaining a raw edge to it and a 180 gram vinyl pressing should be able to bring out the band’s sound even more. There really is nothing bad to talk about here regarding the music. Fans of the band that already listened to the “Call of Ashes/Stone and Sea” split should already know what to expect from this and to any new Fen listeners, I think this would be a great sampler and introduction into the sound that has been so carefully crafted and mastered by this band over the past several years.
1. Tides of Glass
2. Stone & Sea
3. The Last Gravestone
Total Playing Time: 19:41
My witty bio here.
Favorite subgenres: Prog, Death Metal
Bands I really like: Coheed and Cambria, The Dear Hunter, Opeth, Between the Buried and Me, Leprous