Published on Sunday, 28 April 2013 17:30
Album title: Dustwalker
Release date: 21 January 2013
Label: Code666 Records
02. Hands Of Dust
05. Wolf Sun
06. The Black Sound
07. Walking The Crowpath
08. Epilogue [special edition bonus]
All those who are familiar with British band Fen already know that this isn't going to be an easy listen. The third studio album, after highly appreciated debut The Malediction Fields from 2009 and a little bit dissapointing successor Epoch, Fen returns with Dustwalker, an epic voyage through windswept and desolate landscape of England's Fen region, from where the band gets most of the inspiration. Yes, it's time to sit back and get fully concetrated on this album, otherwise you can loose almost everything that this album offers.
Fen doesn't make anything new regarding the musical genre, as like many other post-black metal bands they implement many genres into their aggressive and bleak musical expression, from atmospheric post-rock, shoegaze elements, progressive grips, folk influences and much more, still the sound remains strong, raging and sometimes it reaches the point that even all "true" black metallers can't remain indifferent. What starts with a song "Consequence" reminds of USA masters Agalloch, but still with Fen's own note, dissonance and great melodic passages, accompanied with shrieking, yet atmospheric and understandable vocals, that blend so well with, that typical Alcest kind of clean singing. The song is an amazing introduction into what follows and already shows that the band has broadened up their sonic output. Just listen how strong is the conclusion of this opening track. Then my favourites,... "Hands Of Dust" is a dreamy, more than eleven minutes long epic adventure. Great acoustic lines, emotional vocals and atmospheres that you won't forget so easily. The track builds slowly and is becoming more and more intense, until it reaches the ultimate climax. It's like an elaborate and well thought scream of pain. Vocal job on this one reminded me of Tiamat from Clouds or Wildhoney. The third one "Spectre" is a step away from metal music, as it offers typical 70's influenced prog rock, somehow similar to what Opeth did on Heritage. There are a lot of hidden things in this one, but what impresses the most is its ending, where the band serves one of the most thrilling moments of the album, the guitar work here reminded me to Anathema from their Eternity era. The beginning of "Wolf Sun" is a kick in the face with its black n' roll, a bit punkish, kinda later Darkthrone part, but it soon transform into more progressive and complex output. What represents best this album and Fen's musical direction are last two tracks "The Black Sound" and the longest track up here, more than thirteen minutes long "Walking The Crowpath". Every single before mentioned element is blended into one dark substance, it's black metal, but at the same time Fen are far away from typical black metal band, probably too complex or demanding and if you are not completely devoted into the songs you will not get rewarded by the greatness of those vehement and intense compositions. I can't help but notice also a slight resemblance with the likes as Wolwes In The Throne Room and A Forest Of Stars. Uh, those guitar lines can't get out of my head... On some editions you'll get also a bonus instrumental track "Epilogue", the thing that I don't understand, as this is just a simple conclusion of one great album and should be on all formats.
As those 65 minutes end it's time to rest and reflect upon this masterwork. It really offers a lot for a broad auidience, not only for fans of black metal. Dustwalker is an evident progression in the bands career, the only thing that could be done better is in my opinion the production, because it's blury, but on the other hand it gives some kind of magic. Dustwalker is a passionate, yet very melancholic and intriguing album that must be consumed by everybody who is not afraid of a little bit more exacting listening experience.
Review written by: T.V.