Review Summary: Swirling chain reactions meets a fundamental approach steadying up Fen’s overall sound in a positive manner.
Dustwalker is an album that bends and shifts, but never against the confines of the genre. Nor is it completely straight forward; stretching to some post metal and avant garde/shoegaze, Fen promotes just how to expand from previous releases creating a safe but not overly generic listen. Everything that the band presents in the records run time sits squarely in the genres stereotypes. However Fen does manage to steer away from a roughly dull listen, recreating a solid presence on the black metal community adding some ‘post-like’ elements and reaching Fen’s potential (or as close to it as they’re likely to get). With all of this in mind, it’s important to realise that Fen are not simply conforming to the typical restraints of the music they develop – rather the music revitalises, lifts and expands creating a captivating black metal listen, highlighting that this band is no mere one trick pony. This atmospheric black metal band succeed on knowing where the limits are, ensuring that the music is not forced, strained or over-the-top. In retrospect it’s good to see them improving on their previous full length, Epoch – not in a drastic, revolutionary way but, more in a manner that the band itself has grown, matured and moved forward from their 2011 release.
Transcending the genre completely is a difficult task and rather than trying it seems Fen has accepted their fate, finding it better to go down stream rather than fighting the current. At a respectable sixty-six minutes Fen’s Dustwalker is sure to provide enough material to let the listener fully absorb the music without being disappointed by its runtime and maintain forward thinking they present on Dustwalker. At times, one could be fully immersed in the minimalistic beauty of “Hands Of Dust” swallowed in the tranquil almost Alcest cleans that float in and out only to be broken by even phrased raspy screams. Most of the tracks on the record aren’t exactly the most accessible or catchy tunes; at times you could be listening to a ten minute track filled with multiple influences, soundscapes and especially with the aesthetic black metal sections they get rammed down the listeners’ throat – take the aforementioned “Hands Of Dust for example. Between the combinations of these two integral themes, the clean and tranquil sections come out on top, leaving the stereotypical black metal rather average but still vital. Fen shines through when the music is warm and inviting.
Overall, Dustwalker is a record to take a little notice of. It’s not a best of the best release but it is certainly merit-able in its own right. Fen has built off their last release from two years ago, without slipping away from what they know. Unfortunately for the record it doesn’t have too much of a repeat value and a once through is generally enough for listeners’ to get the feeling of this record. Ultimately, Fen’s Dustwalker is a steady, acceptable release but nothing more. Dustwalker is melodious, energetic, tranquil and yet there is still something in the band’s overall design that’s holding them back.
Damn this is really well written. Obviously I disagree, especially about them being safe. Specter is 10 minutes long and doesn't have a single harsh vocal and barely any distorted guitar. And after some 30 minutes of relatively slow paced spacey music, they hit you with something so shockingly uptempo as Wolf Sun, fall back into brooding black metal, and then end with a progressive whirl (Epilogue).
Yeah this was good, I really enjoyed it. But there were a few songs were the band just got really repetitive for me. Mainly the last two heavy songs after 'Wolf Sun', I dont know about anyone else, but I really didnt care for those 2.
And Crowpath is epic as fuck. Epilogue makes a big difference though. Was gonna give this a 4 before I got my physical copy and heard the real last track, it ties everything together so well and is awesome in it's own right. Crowpath seemed to end too abruptly but it was really just a lead in to Epilogue.
Meh. Everyone on this sight seems to adore Agalloch, I enjoy them, but I thought Marrow was easily their best album, which people here went two opposite directions on. And Secrets of the Moon is *yaaaaaaawwwwn*
i'd actually never heard fen before this album. one of the reasons i checked this out is because i think the artwork is pretty cool, but it's prob a 3/5 for me as well. i wonder if i should check out other fen albums.