Fen Monuments_to_absence

Fen - Monuments to Absence


Post-Black Metal, that’s what it is. Even though I have read some different categorizations for Fen’s music and soundscapes, it is Post-Black Metal of the finest kind. With a hard ear for atmosphere and melody but at the same time also a fine skillset of blastbeats and thunderous riffs. Their latest full-length Monuments to Absence exemplifies this combination again to its fullest. Simply brilliant!

The record is presented with a promising cover and a mix of red symbols, black lines and shadowy white mountainscapes in the background – a fitting combination for the ensuing 67 minutes spanning across eight songs (each between 6,5 and 9,5 minutes long) as the record surely has a lot of reddish angry moments, but also some highly melancholic whites. One thing is for sure, there is not one second on Monuments to Absence that is emotionless – each track serves purposefully as a stone in the bigger picture, every song nicely flowing into the next one so that at the end, the bigger picture is clearly visible – through sound and image.

The East Anglian trio around the brothers named The Watcher (vox, guitars) and Grungyn (vox, bass), joined by J.G. on drums have really outdone themselves, because every track has some highly melodic and melancholic moments but also delivers fights back with ferocious, fear-inducing thunderous themes. I am usually not a friend of using one track as a ‘pars pro toto’ but the title track gives me the chance to do it correctly, but nevertheless, please keep in mind that tracks like ”Thrall”, “To Silence And Abyss We Reach” or ”All is Lost” would also work really well in that way. But for me the best track on this record among all these sensational songs is the outstanding movement that is the title track:

The track starts with a short spherical intro of building and rising guitar motifs very shyly accompanied by some slight vocal harmonies in the very background and when the whole thing kicks off after a minute we still have the guitar lines underneath all the drum thunders and then the vocals also become louder, clearer and all in all more present. And yes, vocals, as in plural, should be noted here because the way that The Watcher and Grungyn alternate their vocal lines here is really great and there is something “unusual” about the slightly guttural vocal lines – they’re still understandable! The track talks about sorrow, one of the most all-consuming feelings there is, but it becomes obvious that here, it’s also used as fuel for their anger. And when the choir vocals set in after roughly 3:45 minutes it’s one of these moments that just seem to make sense. The track slows down, the drums ebbs away and the clear and guttural vocals are laid upon each other and it sounds either like angry Gregorians or soothing Pagans, both fighting for a better future. This doomy, choral-clad passage with some of background thunder lasts for a bit and makes it one of the most appealing yet never boring Black Metal songs yours truly has heard all year long. When the trio then re-ascends the mountain with smaller, quicker steps their anger shines through again – and all of it is so well-clad soundwise that one should not be surprised that it also goes down after a while, for after every peak there must be a descent and here this is down with lots of twists and turns so that even after more than eight minutes the listener is still en-rapt with the track when the slow synth fade out begins.

All these tiny little details, the songwriting structures, the compositional value behind the songs, the vocals that shine through – basically everything on this record screams for attention. Whether it’s the atmospheric elegances or the relentless rage, both have their fair share on Monuments to Absence and both try to show us that mankind as it is as of right now is bound for a ride down to Luciferian spheres while trying to outmaneuver each other for the last spots of survival. However, we will become absent and there is no one else to blame but us. There might not be a more suitable genre for such a message than Post-Black Metal for it can be angry and melodic at the same time. This record surely is, and blimey it’s a good one!