FEN - Epoch CD
Code 666 Records
Genre: Post Black Metal
I've been waiting patiently for this British band's newest release to come my way. They also have a split release now with DE ARMA out on Nordvis Records but this was the more important one. Back in 2009 I got their debut, The Malediction Fields, and afterwards my whole opinion on avant garde/post black metal changed. Of course if you go over the edge of the template then you're not BM at all in my not so humble opinion. You're a total fraud like HORSEBACK or any other indie rock losers trying to push their pretentious crap into the realm of metal. FEN go so close to that edge with their cascading waves of atmospheric soundscapes that they must be leaving a blood trail from the razor cuts. I wasn't alone in praising their debut. There were plenty of people in the underground, those who actually like black metal, who praised it's relaxing yet harsh brilliance. Of course their sound comes from their territory. The band takes their name from an area of England where they grew up called The Fens. Supposedly it's very wet there with bogs and marshes. Strangely enough their sound doesn't remind you of being hit in the face with mud. On the contrary it's like sitting in a lawn chair, kicking back in the flatlands and watching the elements around you change from season to season. Like I mentioned earlier it's partly relaxing and in other ways harsh but that was their first release. What a surprise this was.
The harshest thing about this, their sophomore release, is that it doesn't surpass The Malediction Fields. That's not to say it's a crappy release but it's just that there are many parts on here were FEN sound below average. OK I'm being nice because the truth is that this release sucks. The band's previous strength was that on their debut I, as well as others, compared them with DRUDKH. Epoch is like the last AGALLOCH release which wasn't bad but was a more accessible release then their past works which is why hipsters got into it. The opening title cut starts off slow and mundane until finally the assault on your senses comes into play. Sadly it's as if they stole this from ALTAR OF PLAGUES first album White Tomb. Sure the two bands both play the same style of black metal but the riffs are just too similar. Maybe they've been drinking from the same marshland that they shit in? "Ghosts of the Flood" gives FEN a reprieve by starting out with a wall of distorted white noise and anguished screaming but breaks into a jangly melody which is more akin to indie rock than BM. For a short time the blackened rasps are replaced with some clean sounding indie rock girlie man vocals. Someone set a fire to their asses because it ends with a massive flood of elated noise. "Of Wilderness and Ruin" was an improvement in a blackened 4AD type of way. "The Gibbet Elms" takes the band into CABARET VOLTAIRE territory to the point where I just walked out of the room with the words "fuck this shit" under my breath.
When I came back into the room I was greeted by the band's new post rock dance hit "Carrier of Echoes". I hate ethereal dance crap. The song thankfully changes to a more aggressive tone but not long before it floats away on a jazzy cloud of swamp gas otherwise known as an earth fart. I really couldn't take much more of this but actually there was one cut on here which brought the greatness of their debut to mind. "Ashbringer" which is the final cut on here brought back that DRUDKH comparison albeit a wimpier version. FEN has gone the same route as all the other post BM bands, ALTAR OF PLAGUES and ALCEST for examples, who put out a decent if not great debut only to follow it up with avant garbage. Epoch is sad since FEN shed their sheer black metal intensity to go head long into the most boring aspects of shoegaze boredom and indie rock simplicity. What was once fresh and challenging now sounds contrived and packaged for children, aka: hipster retards. This came out months ago so I deliberately stayed away from reading anything about it in order to enjoy the experience untainted by a lessor's opining. I'm so pissed now after listening to this that I could hold their heads down in the bog until the air bubbles cease to surface. FEN didn't just slip over the template edge. They jumped off and onto the next one over entitled indie rock fraud. Some people will say that my opinions are based on the defense of black metal's archaic and rigid boundaries and that FEN is simply breaking those boundaries. My question to that is who set up those boundaries? Certainly black metal didn't set up boundaries to prevent expression of itself. The boundary was set up by the outsiders who at first hated black metal but later on tried to come in and take from it in order to describe themselves as something which they are not. More to fact is that it's the outsiders who steal parts of black metal to incorporate into their own style because on it's own their music is shit. And frankly not even a coat of black paint can cover the stink of shit.