Fen “The Dead Light” Review

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Fen has released a new album called “The Dead Light” it is their next opus in their extensive and consistent discography. I had the pleasure to listen to the album and wanted to say that it is good but there are some moments where the album gets a bit repetitive. Instead of covering themes of nature and the ground beneath our feet Fen have decided to take the listener skywards to the stars and planets above. The album takes me through this journey in a wonderful way. I picture ancient populations before civilization ballooned looking up at the night sky in wonderment and mystery. I think the lads from Fen have constructed an album that really conveys these feelings.

The album starts with an instrumental that paints an image of wandering a meadow at night stargazing. There is a calming vibe with the song but as it progresses, it builds to the first song “The Dead Light (Part 1)” and as the first chords kick in I now see myself sitting on an asteroid shooting through space and time. This song is very progressive in nature, and a bit chaotic in a way to. This is the first major difference from Fen’s prior releases they get much more proggy in their song structure. I think this helps “The Dead Light” but hurts it a bit too. I have not been the biggest fan of prog metal because I feel it meanders too much and gets a bit too technical for my liking. Some moments in the album go in that direction, but Fen are able to balance it out with much more beautiful post metal passages.

As the album continues we are then introduced to another instrumental bridge “The Dead Light (Part 2)” that reminds me so much of Morgion’s instrumental “Solinari” it has this very mystical and ethereal vibe going on with it that is perfect transition to one of the stand out tracks “Nebula”. This is a really well written and beautiful song by Fen, they go straight up black metal meets post rock meets shoegaze in this song. It shows how versatile they are as songwriters because you get a sense of chaos and kinetic energy in one song and now introduced to a very dreamy/introspective tune to balance it out. I think “Nebula” is probably the closest sound to their work off “The Malediction Fields” with an even greater emphasis on clean vocals.

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The last four songs off “The Dead Light” are very different from one another and this where things end up getting a bit repetitive on the album. The first track “Labyrinthine Echoes” is a good song and epic in nature. It sounds like an extended version of Enslaved’s “Return to Yggdrasil” with many movements both heavy and quiet. The next two songs “Breath of the Void” and “Exsanguination” are where the album gets a bit rocky. These songs sound very similar to one another and just bleed into one another. Nothing really stands out about these tracks compared to other amazing songs on the album I have heard so far.

The final song on the album “Rendered in Onyx” is an amazing song and a great closing opus to end the album on a high note. The images in this song are stunning, dreamlike and hopeful. When I hear this song, I picture myself floating in the Milky Way with stars, and planets surrounding me. The millions of suns warming my face amidst the peace and quiet of the interstellar silence. I feel “Rendered in Onyx” is a healthy mix of “Bereft” and “Winter III (Fear)” it has that specific hook that really hits all the right emotional buttons. The combination of clean vocals and The Watcher’s screams makes this song super interesting. It successfully takes you down so many paths both aggressive and calming.

“The Dead Light” is another great entry in Fen’s discography. There are plenty of highlights to be heard on the album there are just some areas that didn’t impress me as much as the songs from Fen’s prior releases, specifically, “Winter” and “Carrion Skies” . If you have been a fan of Fen, you will enjoy this album and may even love the songs I did not enjoy as much. Fen is one of those bands that know how to write consistently good music and I am glad to hear the experimentation found on the album. Eventually the different paths Fen takes with their music will lead to even more interesting and adventurous albums in the future.

Rating 8/10

Bandcamp: https://fenuk.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fenofficial

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/FenBandUK

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A Review of “Salt” by KHôRADA

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When the news came out about the emergence of KHôRADA I was super excited and intrigued to see what direction Don Anderson, Jason Walton and Aesop Dekker would go with the inclusion of Giant Squid’s brainchild AJ Gregory. To me this was quite the dichotomy of styles and influences that could in turn create an album so unique and mammoth that it would be genre-defining than genre-rehashing. I think this has always been the motivation of these talented musicians over the years, when Agalloch was an entity they always challenged themselves and went to higher levels of creativity, the same can be said about Giant Squid. What I see in KHôRADA’s album “Salt” is that Don, Jason, AJ and Aesop do not believe in a mediocre product, they have crafted a piece of music that is relevant, challenging and absolutely crushing. The heaviness in this album is beyond words, there is so much riffs that are doom-laden and just bleak. The sounds erupting from all the instruments absolutely engulfs you in suffocating, strange and otherworldly ways.

When you are first introduced to “Salt” there is a sound of distant horns heralding the end of the world. As the song progresses the helpless, and emotive vocals of AJ Gregory arise from the watery depths. His voice prophesizes the end of the world and the birth of the sixth mass extinction. After reading the lyrics of “Edeste” I came to the conclusion that “Salt” is going to be a hopeless, fatalistic, and nihilistic journey. As the album progressed the themes and emotions in music continued to grow and grow into utter despair and despondency. This may sound negative but I guarantee this is a positive, KHôRADA’s “Salt” is a tiring but important journey of the heart and soul. After multiple listens I was thinking more and more about mortality of not only myself but the whole of mankind. The guitars, bass, drums and vocals put the listener through a series of inner trials and tribulations and you come out of the fog with a different view of life and the inevitable doom that will follow.

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Photo Credit: Cody Keto Photography

As the album progresses the songs get more and more dense/evocative. As I am listening to all the nuances I am hearing snippets of Agalloch and Giant Squid. The guitar work of Don Anderson is always a stand out, the solos and leads he incorporates are very distinctive and melancholic. AJ Gregory’s guitars are a lot crunchier, and it really gives KHôRADA a unique identity. The one thing that really impressed me more than anything else is the bass and drum work of Jason and Aesop. The foundation they have built together really gives “Salt” such depth, intensity and heaviness. The drumming is just outstanding and there are a ton of bass leads and lines that are right at the forefront that makes the tracks all the gloomier.

The one thing you will notice above all else about “Salt” is the very apparent political statement found throughout AJ Gregory’s lyrics. He specifically said in the conception of “Salt” that it is a protest against the Trump-era and how this era will expedite the inevitable end of the world. There is such a sense of anger and hopelessness in the lyrics that it makes you really concerned about the future especially for future generations. Surprisingly enough AJ Gregory, Don Anderson, Jason Walton and Aesop Dekker tend to develop music at the most relevant times which increases the impact and weight of “Salt”. Truly this is a testament to the talent and skill they all have, I am really looking forward to seeing what type of album they will come up with next. When you have such gifted musicians in a project like KHôRADA the next album will inevitably be impactful and genre-defining. In the dark ages we are in now as human race a band like KHôRADA is the light found in the darkest recesses of the abyss.

Rating: 8/10

Official Site: https://www.khorada.com

Bandcamp: https://khorada.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/khorada/

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Photo Credit: Cody Keto Photography