Fen - Ancient Sorrow
Northern Silence Productions
Atmospheric Black Metal
3 songs (28'21")
Release year: 2007
Fen, Northern Silence
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

Back in Ukraine, many moons ago, attending the school where English was treated as one of the main subjects, we used to get loads of it during a school week. But the ultimate reward was considered a trip to the UK, to practice your skills in the real setting. Alas, not “connected” to the elite I never made that trip. The others, more privileged, did, and according to their stories, as soon as you got outside of London all they could see were pretty uniform lush green, but wet and soggy landscape. Maybe it was always the season my classmates picked to go, but they constantly talked about rains and ground turning into a swamp.

Those of you who, just like me, never visited the Foggy Albion now have a chance to take this journey with Eastern England newcomers Fen. Taking their name from a boggy marsh, the band, fittingly, delivers an excellent, very organically recorded (analog?) mixture of atmospheric black metal and ambient progressive doom.

As much as I enjoyed Ancient Sorrow I would list my only problem with the MCD up front. The order of the songs seems to be totally off the mark. Not that Desolation Embraced is a bad track, but its mid-tempo, cavernous lumbering riffs simply do not make for an immediate best representation of the band. The song matures, adding layers, like leaves on the crowns of ancient sorrowful oaks, eventually fading away with acoustics, all dreamy and introspective.

The Gales Scream of Loss and Under the Endless Sky tend to be a lot more fleeting and ethereal, shifting around like weightless tectonic plates (enjoy the oxymoron). Under the Endless Sky, with its strong pulsating bass and droning tone, as well as out-of-nowhere blastbeats, tends to be more mystical and foreboding, especially given “there is no hope” lyrics. The Gales Scream of Loss delivers the incredible melancholic melody coming via a wall of guitars and bassless drumming full of prominent snare and continuous cymbal ride. The song grows bolder as it unfolds, incorporating synth and acoustic tones, supported by engulfing drum rolls.

Clearly nature inspired, Ancient Sorrow is a gift to the fans of early Agalloch circa Pale Folklore, but earthier warmer melodies and vocals shifting from tortured to spoken to whispers and hisses will bring this MCD closer to the locale, also invoking Primordial’s Spirit the Earth Aflame. Definitely not a bad company to start with. (I wonder if keyboard player Draugluin is the same person who handled guitars in now split up Tsjuder, or the ranks of Tolkien fans are truly endless).

Killing Songs :
The Gales Scream of Loss, Under the Endless Sky
Alex quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by Fen that we have reviewed:
Fen - Winter reviewed by Andy and quoted 89 / 100
Fen - Dustwalker reviewed by Andy and quoted 89 / 100
Fen - Epoch reviewed by Charles and quoted 88 / 100
Fen - The Malediction Fields reviewed by Charles and quoted 80 / 100
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