Fen’s latest release Carrion Skies feels almost effortless in the way the band expresses its signature atmospheric metal essence. It’s clear from the very first moments of opening track ‘Our Names Written in Embers – Part 1 (Beacons of War)’, which starts off with a sparse and simple chord-based motif that immediately draws the listener in. Throughout the album the band fluidly switches between folksy acoustic passages and majestic heavier sections, often toying with complex time signatures and clean vocal sections when it fits the flow of the song. Pretty much every track has at least a few amazing sections, and the tracks vary from light and contemplative to powerful, droning atmospheric black metal so fans of a few different styles should be able to find something on Carrion Skies to enjoy.
Apparently I was one of the few people who didn’t really get into the band’s last release Dustwalker – it seemed a bit too mellow and post-rockish to me – so my favorite release of the band thus far has been sophomore album Epoch. Fortunately for me, this album feels like a continuation of that album rather than its predecessor. Carrion Skies is definitely heavier than Dustwalker, and any suspicion that the band would be continuing in a more post rock direction are quickly dissipated after hearing a couple of the heavy-hitting tracks on this album. At the same time, the bands mastery of atmosphere and long-winded folk-influenced melodies means that fans of mellower stuff and material more along the lines of the previous album should still be able to appreciate the material on this release.
Carrion Skies is probably one of the album highlights of 2014 for me, so that should tell you something about how good it is. As always, fans of bands like Agalloch, Winterfylleth and Woods of Desolation should check out this latest release from one of the UK’s most talented and promising black metal projects.