Fen are the impressive sum of disparate parts. Imagine the acoustic progginess of Opeth's Damnation mixed with atmospheric, melodic black metal. Clean vocals sit alongside awesome black metal screams. Blast beats and acoustic guitars. Bouncing rhythms that make me think Orchid. These guys don't give a fuck, and it rules.
The guitar work, performed by The Watcher, is great stuff. The black metal riffage is infused with oceans of melodic originality. The numerous clean passages are the most impressive piece of the pie. I'm really impressed. This compliments the melancholic singing well and paints a stark contrast to the black metal undercurrents. Completely epic.
The clean vocals bring to mind a young Jonas Renske, circa Discouraged Ones. There are some excellent and compelling melodies here. The black metal vocals are perfection in my book. Not too raspy, and just raw enough. There are tasteful keys throughout, either in an atmospheric capacity, or as excellent pure piano accompaniment.
The production on the album is wide open and airy, doing great justice to Fen's sound. As I mentioned earlier, Fen are not content with the standard clean/heavy dichotomy. All of the elements are mixed up in a pleasing fashion. The songwriting skill is quite evident. The Malediction Fields evokes an array of emotions, from funereal disconsolation to complete triumph. The album holds my attention from start to finish, and never turns itself into background music.
If you think you can stomach their concoction, then I highly recommend checking out Fen. If you're a fan of epic, dark, melodic metal that's bursting with originality, then you should give this a shot. Opeth fans take heed. This album embodies progress, to me, as I've never really heard anything like it. The Malediction Fields is riding high on my list of the year's best albums.
Fen hail from the UK, and Code666 records are located in Italy, so as you can imagine, it's difficult to get your hands on this album, especially in America. I was able to order The Malediction Fields here from The End records.