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Fen - "Epoch" (CD)

Fen - "Epoch" CD cover image

"Epoch" track listing:

1. Epoch
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
8. Ashbringer

Reviewed by on April 2, 2011

"Even after giving the album its fair share of playing time it is still nothing more than a melodramatic attempt at experimental black metal, an attempt that falls very short of its mark."

No matter how hard one wants to like an album, at times it is just impossible. Such is the case with the latest full-length release from U.K. experimental black metal act Fen. Through multiple spins, and many hours lost, the band’s latest - titled “Epoch” - serves more as a sampler plate of the sounds of countless other bands rather than anything new or original. Although given the experimental genre tag in terms of the black metal spectrum, “Epoch” is a much more familiar and routine listening experience, offering nothing more than a half-inspired attempt to recreate the magic forged decades earlier by acts that were truly experimental in nature.

Once the opening instrumental “Epoch” is done with, “Ghost of the Flood” gives way to a hectic and disorganized composition that feels forced more than anything else. While the band attempts to add in moments of clean singing and clean guitar sections, the sounds of such are merely mimicked and come across as contrived attempts at being experimental. The drum work on “Ghosts of the Flood” is also very sporadic and messy, especially in the heavier sections, creating a random and annoying wall of noise that keeps the song from developing into a pleasant listen.

While the majority of “Epoch” is a tired and drawn-out event one track does stick out above the others in the form of an awkwardly titled “The Gibbet Elms.” Containing less black metal elements than other tracks and being one of the shorter cuts at six and a half minutes, “The Gibbet Elms” offers a listening experience that is much easier to digest and to appreciate. While still severely lacking in the production quality department you can almost hear a great song hiding beneath the surface, wanting to break free from the restriction that is “Epoch.”

Overall this eight track album is extremely hard to listen through in one sitting and needs to be revisited time and time again. Even after giving the album its fair share of playing time it is still nothing more than a melodramatic attempt at experimental black metal, an attempt that falls very short of its mark. Whether it is the horrible production quality that holds the few great moments from shining through or the fact that much of the “experimentation” found within the album is actually the furthest thing from being experimental, “Epoch” is an album that is meant for an extremely small niche of metal fans. Lacking anything to stick in one’s memory “Epoch” will fade into obscurity in an over-crowded metal scene, having only a place amongst the most underground of black metal elitists.

Highs: "The Gibbet Elms" has some interesting moments.

Lows: The production quality and lack of any real experimentation.

Bottom line: For black metal purists and elitists only.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)