Saturday, December 8, 2012

Interview with FEN plus review to FEN's upcoming album "Dustwalker"

In this cold Wintry evening, Lachryma Christi would like to present you an interview with The Watcher, singer and guitarist of the Atmospheric Black Metal band FEN, who will be releasing a new album called Dustwalker early next year, through the Italian label Code 666 Records (Aural Music). You can find the review to this upcoming album on the bottom of the interview. For now, just keep reading, and find out what Fen have been doing and what is still in store!

Why Fen as a name? What is the meaning of it for you as band?

A Fen refers to a low-lying area of drained land – that is, land that was once
underwater. Both myself and Grungyn were raised in an area called The Fens whereby
the surrounding landscape is predominantly like this. It’s very flat, very bleak and
quite strange – the human presence is few and far between, the skies are vast and the
deep, dark peat soils seem to hide a myriad of secrets.

It’s a landscape that had a profound effect on me as a teenager and when we put the
band together, we wanted to try and channel these atmospheres through the music.
Hence, Fen makes perfect sense as a moniker for the band –it perfectly captures what
we are about musically, aesthetically and conceptually.

How did the band start? Would you like to tell us a little story about it?

We formed at the start of 2006. It was an idea that had been fomenting away in my
brain for about six months before this – myself, Grungyn and Theutus (our former
drummer) were playing in another more traditional black metal band but we were
starting to feel a little constrained by this. We wrote a new song (which eventually
became ‘Under the Endless Sky’ from our debut EP) and it became clear we were
moving in a different direction.

So, at the start of 2006 the three of us entered the rehearsal room to work on some
new material. No boundaries, no expectations, our only goal was to make music
that truly satisfied us. At this stage, we were only planning on being a studio
project, we hadn’t even considered playing live! Within the first few months, we had
recorded ‘Ancient Sorrow’ and from that point onwards, people outside the band
started to take interest in us. We were very surprised – we only became aware of
this ‘post black metal’ movement after our EP was released and it was illuminating to
realize a number of other acts were thinking along similar lines to ourselves.

How were the reactions to your latest album Epoch? Was it what you were expecting?

The reactions to Epoch were pretty positive – I think some people were disappointed
that we hadn’t changed our sound significantly from the debut album but that was
never the intention. We aren’t the sort of band to willfully change for the sake of it,
we’re more about honing our sound and carefully crafting our material. Some critics
thought we had abandoned the metal side of things too much but this is nonsense –
Epoch is first and foremost a metal album – but it is true that we wanted to inject even
more non-metal elements into the record.

Ultimately, I’m not surprised by the reactions to Epoch really. I am flattered by some
of the more positive responses we got and when the album ended up on a few end-of-
year lists this was quite humbling. I don’t think we’ll ever get the thumbs-up from the
more traditional end of the extreme metal community but for listeners who embrace
a wide variety of atmospheric music as well as black metal, they seemed to really
connect with the album.

How did the deal with Code666 come up?

They approached us after the release of the ‘Ancient Sorrow’ EP and made us a great
offer to release out albums. The strength of the roster, the obvious consideration they

take over their releases and their established distributional network made it a very
attractive offer which we snapped up! Since then, they have done our releases proud.

From your point of view, what differences can your followers expect from the album Epoch
to the upcoming album Dustwalker?

If Epoch is a twilit evening in Autumn, Dustwalker represents the glare of a freezing
winter’s dawn. It’s a colder, harder record. The metal elements are more intense for
sure – there are very little synths, instead layers of guitar and effects-laden bass
deliver the atmospherics. Each track on Dustwalker is a separately-considered entity
with the intention being for each of the songs to be as defined as possible.

We are always conscious of maintaining dynamics and with Dustwalker, the contrasts
are more pronounced than ever. The album contains some of the heaviest songs we
have recorded (‘Consequence’ and ‘Walking the Crowpath’) but also the ‘lightest’
song yet recorded in the form of ‘Spectre’ (which contains no harsh vocals and almost
no distorted guitars). Light and shade – sun and shadow – battling under the aegis of
winter’s glare.

There will be a especial edition of new album with a pendant of your logo. Who had that
idea? How did it come out?

Code666 always like to ensure that each album release is preceded by a strictly
limited special edition. In this instance, it was their idea to include a pendant of the
band logo – I think this is a great idea as the Fen logo lends itself very well to such a
design. I’ve seen some photographs of the pendant and it looks marvelous.

What have been your main influences along the band's existence?

In a musical sense, I guess the key inspirations have always been the early
atmospheric black metal masters – Ulver’s ‘Bergtatt’, early Emperor, early Dissection,
that sort of thing as well bands of that ilk with a more progressive touch (Artcturus,
Borknagar). Fusing these sorts of sounds with post-rock/shoegaze/guitarwave such
as Fields of the Nephilim, Mogwai and Slowdive was always a concept we had in mind
when forging material.

Some may argue that there is a contradiction between these influences but I do not
see this – ideologically, black metal and post-rock may be poles apart but there is
definitely a kinship in the pursuit of ambience, atmosphere and affectation through
layering, soundscapes, textures. And I think this has been acknowledged for some
time, to be honest. Indeed, acts such as Fluerety and Ved Beunes Ende were fusing
new wave-tinged avant gardism with black metal long before ourselves (or any of the
more recent ‘post black metal’ bands) came into being.

Can you name a band with who you would like to play/tour with?

Fields of the Nephilim, Enslaved, Primordial, ChameleonsVox, Anathema, Katatonia,
Whitesnake (ha!). We’ve been lucky in that we’ve played with some of our most
respected artists such as Agalloch and Negura Bunget. I guess touring properly with
Agalloch would be a great experience as we get along very well with those guys. I can
see a lot of quality beer being consumed if that were ever to happen…

Not wanting to ask you for a label, how would you describe the music you play?

Atmospheric extreme metal. To be honest, I don’t really mind ‘labels’ as such, I think
it’s a handy way of getting a quick handle on how a band might sound. After all, this
is all a label is really, it’s intended as an abbreviated way to identify what to expect
when listening to a band. If you’re listening to a Darkthrone album and someone asks
you what style of music it is, it’d be facetious to turn round and say ‘rock’. If someone
wants to label us as ‘post black metal’ or ‘shoegaze black metal’ I have no massive
problem with this. Those labels have been over-used in the last four-five years but it’s
a shorthand way of someone referencing our sound.

How did it go at the Aurora Infernalis Festival in Arnhem, Netherlands on the past 27th October?

Very well, thanks. The venue was excellent – a really well-equipped theatre with a
great stage, lighting system, PA. I was highly impressed, it’s definitely the best venue
I’ve played so far in my career. The crew there as well were very professional – we
were only second out of six bands so were hardly the highest priority yet they were
very attentive and helpful.

Unfortunately, I had a few issues at the start of the set – my throat was a little dry
which didn’t help with the vocals and I couldn’t power a few of my pedals which
meant the guitars were lacking some texture. Nevertheless, we got into it and after
a few songs, I think we really got into our stride. The PA was thundering and some
of the audience seemed to be connecting with what we were doing which was quite
impressive given it was about 4 in the afternoon!

What can we expect regarding live acts after Dustwalker is out? Anything planned so far?

Nothing concrete is planned as of yet but obviously, we’d like to play live as much as
we can to promote the new record. I think the next show we play will be an intimate
album launch gig for the record somewhere in London, we just need to finalize the
arrangements for this.

Other than that, we would like to do a proper tour to reach some of the places in
Europe we haven’t yet been able to play and also appear at some of the big festivals
taking place in the summer. I think this would be a great way for us to spread our
message even further.

Any message you would like to leave to your fans, and Black Metal fans in general?

Just a big thank you to all of those who have supported us and shown an interest in the music we
have done. We hope to see you onstage soon!

Line up:

Grungyn - bass, cries
Derwydd - drums
The Watcher - voices, strings and woe

Upcoming release:

Dustwalker (January 2013)

So, Dustwalker. Well, this is a very varied album, where you can find a lot of aggressiveness at times, but also a lot of cheesy and acoustic melodies (good cheesy).
The album is scheduled to be released on the 21st of January of 2013, which is a good way to start the new year. Dustwalker contains 7 tracks. There is a bonus track for the special edition. Meaning it will be available  on CD format and as a limited edition clambox, which will include a bonus track and a pendant with the band's distinctive logo.
The cover artwork is in a grey colors range with nature related symbolic imagery. It was created by FEN bassist Grungyn
If you are looking for something different from the traditional Black Metal stuff as well as to enrich your musical culture, this will be certainly the right album to go for.
Dustwalker brings us some heavy Black Metal but also some post rockiness as well as progressiveness. First song, Consequence, is really heavy, dark and obscure and also very cold. The aggressiveness in the voice helps you bringing the cold from outside to inside and all the composition is replete of good quality. In opposition to this, there is the track Spectre, the third track of the album, which is so melodic and accoustic and full of good vibes. Guitars are just awesomely combined with the voice and the chorus really resembles the hits from the 70's heavy rock most famous bands. First thought was: "aaawwww". it's a very pretty tune, if we can put it like that. 
There is also an instrumental short song called Reflections
The song Walking the Crowpath is a very good song too, where you can listen to crows in the beginning, followed by an acoustic interlude to suddenly explode into a perfect progressive heaviness. 
Maybe these are the most remarkable songs in the album for Lachryma Christi, because each of those tells us what FEN are able to do with all the influences they suffer in their music, without horribly ridiculously mixing them as unfortunately some bands do lookin for some forced originality, and still without success. 
Dustwalker is a great example of how listening to different kinds of music and allowing this fact to interfere in the composing process can work really well.

You can find more information and music of FEN on:

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