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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My Journey with Anathema

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“How did I get here? I don’t belong here…”

I have recently been listening to Anathema’s new track “Springfield” off their upcoming album “The Optimist”. When I was hearing the new song it once again reminded me of how important and relevant Anathema has been to me and my personal life. Every one of their songs found some way to affect me emotionally. The honesty and relatability found in their lyrics and music helped me through many difficult moments in my life. Anathema are one of those bands that just gets the human condition and the trials and tribulations we all go through emotionally, physically and spiritually. I can guarantee if you have no notion of Anathema that when you hear one of their songs it will immediately make you feel like they understand you. If you have ever dealt with family deaths, nasty divorces, broken relationships, spiritual conflicts and personal moments of redemption/catharsis that Anathema probably touched upon it in their extensive discography.

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L-R: John Douglas (drums), Daniel Cardoso (keyboards), Lee Douglas (vocals), Vincent Cavanagh (vocals, and guitar), Jamie Cavanagh (bass), and Danny Cavanagh (lead guitar)

This band has been in my life since I was 18 years old the first album I ever bought from them is called “Judgment” when I first heard this incredibly personal album that I honestly felt that whatever feelings and thoughts I had difficulty conveying Anathema were able to make me better understand these feelings. The sincerity, sadness and honesty in this album was nothing I ever heard before. For the better part of three years “Judgment” was the soundtrack to my life at that time. I was dealing with countless bouts of despondency and had a hard time trying to understand love and relationships because I was always failing in this regard. I was confused and angry at people who didn’t get me and I was sad that my friends were in relationships and I was still left out in the cold. It was a difficult time and I couldn’t find my identity. After countless spins of “Judgment” I started getting a better understanding of these feelings and how to cope with them. Then I went further back in Anathema’s catalog and bought “Alternative 4” there was more anger and disillusionment in this album and endless questions of “why me” in my head and then as I listened I better understood why. This album fits so many moments of guilt and trying to cope with it. When things go wrong, there is always a scapegoat or someone to blame for everything. “Alternative 4” was a difficult album to get through because it helped me better understand that it was me to blame as well with my own faults and failings. I know I am not perfect and I know I have screwed things up “Alternative 4” makes you understand that regret helps you grow and that with those failings you try to become something better.

“An answer won’t come from me
Confront your own worst enemy
What does your mirror see
Is it time to face up to me?”

Anathema also touches upon the difficulties of death and the grief that follows. This could be the death of a long relationship with your lover or the death of someone dear to your life like a parent, sibling or close friend. I personally dealt with the death of my Dad, I was 21 when it happened. It was one of the hardest times in my life and made me reevaluate everything there is to evaluate about mortality. Every album of Anathema’s has songs about this incredibly sad and transformative part of life. The parallels were uncanny with my family and the Cavanagh family. Anathema is made up of 3 brothers who all lost their mother right around the same age as me and my two younger brothers. Then later on in life they lost their father, to understand these circumstances Anathema’s music has become an extension of my heart and soul. Their music has now become a super important catalyst to how I still deal with life now and the grief that comes with it when sad things happen. It goes back to the point of how relatable and honest Anathema is both lyrically and musically. And how without them I do not think I would be alive today, they made me understand that I am not alone that it will get better in time. If I was lost in my head with no outlet to vent or to have catharsis I would not get out of my head, I would just fall deeper, and deeper until there is nothing left to love in the world. Anathema’s music gave me hope, and brought light back from the dark.

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“Cos no matter what I say
No matter what I do
I cant change what happened
No matter what I say
No matter what I do
I cant change what happened
No no I can’t change”

Love and the destruction of it is the final element of Anathema’s music that many can relate to. All their albums touch upon the anger, depression and frustration that occurs when a once loving relationship fails. The album that really touches upon this aspect is “A Natural Disaster” which is once again an album that eerily parallels with my own personal experience in relationships. While the album covers Danny Cavanagh’s divorce, it still is an album of the reflection, and disappointment I found in my own relationships. The lies, madness, pain and abuse I went through over the years stuck with me like a demon latching onto a helpless host. At one point I didn’t know how to break this cycle. I always felt cursed in regards to love and relationships. I gave up and still have given up today. One thing I did know is that I could rely on the music of Anathema to help me gain clarity and closure in these past hurts. After hours of driving both in the night and in the day listening to “A Natural Disaster” I better understood why relationships are good and bad, and why the pain in the bad is really bad. And why once again I wasn’t alone in these feelings. Knowing this allowed me to find peace in myself as well as well as closure. I no longer was haunted by these demons and ghosts of the past, I was able to build upon the past and look at life in a hopeful way.

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Some of these moments in my life were remedied by the brilliance of Anathema’s music (and plenty of other music as well). I needed to know I wasn’t alone in these thoughts and feelings. I finally understood more about myself as well as my wants and needs. I have looked at people who touched my life in the past profoundly and found ways to keep those memories in tact because it was important to my personal growth as well as perception of the world. My life was a tired and exhausting journey and I continued to keep my headphones on and keep the volume up to help me find some semblance of salvation. I know I will go through bouts of anger, sadness and loneliness but these are all parts of what makes us human and in the end if we can keep our bearings righted that life will hopefully get easier as it goes on. Let Anathema take you on this journey as well…

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“It makes me wanna cry, caught you as I floated by.
It makes me wanna cry, just another distant satellite…”

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Official Page: http://www.anathema.ws/

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