Fen & De Arma (Split)
Towards the Shores of the End
Style: Atmospheric black metal/post-rock
Release date: 15 February, 2011
Playing time: 52:11

In 2009, Fen came out with "The Malediction Fields" which has been one of the best debuts to come out in recent years. Fast forward two years, and Fen is at work again, with a full length set for release in addition to the subject of this review, a split with the band De Arma.

Fen's portion of the split wastes no time in letting you know how much ass they are ready to kick. Following the opening riff of Soilbound, they jump into a tough, syncopated riff that is far heavier than anything they featured on Malediction Fields. Following that, they settle back into familiar atmospheric post-rock territory. Ageless Thenody follows a similar pattern, with a short build up before kicking into a very tough riff, and then settling down again.

As far as the three new songs on the EP ("Bereft" is an acoustic reprise that originated from the first album), they seem to stay more on the post-rock side of things, eschewing more of the dingier black metal that carried the first album. The songs are extremely atmospheric in nature, creating a bleak soundscape that is reminiscent of the swamps from which the band derives.

Musically, Fen does a lot of things extremely well. The keys succeed in creating an atmosphere you can fall into, but they never carry the action. The harsh vocals are above average and the clean vocals are almost lull you into a soft sense of security, only to be disrupted. But the real king here is bassist Grungyn, whose bass lines are among the best in all of metal. When you listen to this album, pay special attention to them because that's where the real magic lies.

With a split, you always wonder how the flow from one band to the next will go and Fen and De Arma works well together. Before hearing this, I knew nothing about De Arma, but apparently it's a project of A from the defunct Armagedda (minimalistic black metal). They deliver three solid black metal tracks that leave me thinking I'm about to get sucked into some reddish vortex.

The "clean" vocals feature some extremely cool distorted harmonies. "Crimson Waters..." is a more aggressive opening that maintains a quick pace throughout focusing on black metal aspects. "Noemata" is a little bit slower and has more of the post-black/post-rock feel to it (which surprisingly makes it seem more in line with Fen's Malediction Fields than Fen's tracks on the split). "From Horizon to Oblivion" features a cool theme riff and features a cool evolution as the track progresses.

In all, this split ends up being a home run. Fen shows that it isn't going to lose any momentum from Malediction Fields and De Arma has etched itself in my mind as a band to watch going forward.


01. Soilbound
Ageless Thenody
Towards the Shores of the End
Bereft (acoustic reprise)
Crimson Waters Ebbing the Shore
From Horizon to Oblivion


Label: Code666/Aural Music/Nordvis
Distribution: Nordvis Productions
Promotion: Clawhammer PR
Artwork rating: 40/100
Reviewed by: The Rev
Date: 3 February, 2011
Website: www.myspace.com/fenband