Fen - _Congenital Fixation_
(Freak Ox Records, 2006)
by: Daniel Cairns (8.5 out of 10)
I read the title of the album here and thought it read "genital fixation", because deep down I am forever a potty-minded ten year old. After sniggering for a few minutes, I coaxed my knackered old laptop into action in an attempt to the play the first track, and just about had a panic attack when it caused the machine to shit itself and die. After a bit of fiddling and a lot of praying (and a hefty repair fee, for which Fen will receive the invoice, the bastards), I got it to work... and guess what? It's really good! In fact, it's excellent.

Vancouver's Fen sound like a mixture of many a seminal band. There are hints of Faith No More, Tool, The Melvins, Radiohead and Devin Townsend (this last comparison is fitting, as bassist Mike Young has collaborated with Townsend in the past). But at the same time, it doesn't steal wholesale from these influences. There's the odd chunky Faith No More riff here and the occasional Maynard James Keenan style vocal there, but on the whole it's a unique record. It isn't bollock smackingly heavy, but let's be honest, that gets pretty boring sometimes. What it is though is groovy, catchy and gloriously progressive.

Fen's strength lies in their predilection for off-kilter melody. Where most bands will go for the obvious chorus or riff, Fen are a lot more thoughtful, and go for chord changes and progressions that are sometimes nigh on heartbreaking. In fact, certain bits had shivers running down my callous husk of a spine, which only top tier artists (like the aforementioned chaps) manage to do. I was so impressed that I will keep the record on my laptop to listen to for enjoyment in the future, as opposed to condemning it to the digital abyss that I have cast so many shit demos and albums into.

I would really love to describe in better detail the tracks themselves, but due to unforeseen circumstances (the flakiness of musicians, I'd wager), the song names don't crop up on iTunes, and to be honest I'm far too retarded and lazy to bother filling in the details myself. What I will say is this: _Congenital Fixation_ is 40 minutes of very talented people going all out to write the best music they can, and they've done a grand job. It's refreshingly free of filler, epic without being preposterous, and stuffed to the gills with imagination and song craft.

Fen are definitely worthy of your time and investigation if you've ever liked your music a little left of centre, and they've made an impressive record that deserves attention.

Oh, and before I forget, you owe me thirty pounds for computer repair, you Canuck bastards.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/fenmusicvancouver

(article published 12/7/2009)

2/25/2011 K Sarampalis 8 Fen - Epoch
2/14/2010 P Azevedo 8.5 Fen - The Malediction Fields
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