Fen: “Winter” Album Review

In this pop-loving, hit-centered music world, the value of an album imbued by a full song-cycle, intended to be listened to from beginning to end, has been lost. But fear not, England’s blackened progressive metallers Fen still embrace the power of sitting with the play button firmly activated and the volume turned up to 10 for the whole full album. In fact, that is the intention of their fifth release, Winter.

Not only is Winter a collection that should be listened to in one sitting, these six songs beg for it. The ambient, endearing opening of “I (Pathway)” sets the trap, and by the time The Watcher’s cosmic scowl is introduced over bombastic orchestration, there is no turning back. The trio, including Grungyn on bass and Havenless on drums, contribute passionately to the shape-shifting that takes place over the track’s remarkable 17-minute duration, plunging listeners into the depths of suffering and lulling them into the clouds with tarnished wings. It is a remarkable feet compositionally, and Fen shine with each moment that passes by casting new themes that are provoking and intense.

Fen  formed in 2006 with an ear for capturing the bleakness and sorrow of the fens of ancient England, and Winter recaptures this concept, delving into the dark crevices and mournful designations of the land. With six songs in more than an hour, subsequent tracks “II (Penance),” “III (Fear),” “IV (Interment),” “V (Death)” and “VI (Sight),” are moored by prodigious playing, although they are at the will of the ebb and flow of emotion.

While some may find Winter overwhelming in its massive scope and intricate twists and turns, what is deemed a return to roots for Fen reflects a similar return to a time when albums were all-encompassing and listeners were rabid for an experience that only a record and a set of headphones could provide. With that in mind, press play on Winter, turn it up, sit back and  drift away.

Winter is out March 10 on Code666. Buy it here!

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