Fen - _The Malediction Fields_
(Code666, 2009)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8.5 out of 10)
Writing this review, I am forced to ponder why Fen's _The Malediction Fields_ has managed to capture my interest so effectively. I find it curious that as 2009 ends, one of my favourite records of the year has won me over mostly using some of the elements that kept me captivated by music in the latter half of the '90s. Almost as if no worthwhile innovations had happened in the past decade that would cast a light on the frailties this album fails to conceal. Noughties indeed.

Yet in those endearing frailties and rawness _The Malediction Fields_ finds extra character, which is often the mark of the truly chosen -- the likes of Katatonia's _Dance of December Souls_ or In the Woods'... _HEart of the Ages_, for instance. While ultimately _The Malediction Fields_ falls short of such classics, it nonetheless finds itself in fine company.

_HEart of the Ages_ serves as a good reference for the atmospheric, pensive kind of blackened metal on offer, as does some of Agalloch's catalogue. There is plenty of clean singing, slow drumming and strummed background melodies; yet the guitars refuse to abandon their underground buzz, and when the music surges and the black vocals emerge, they can be as fierce as any -- and suitably desperate on occasion. The somewhat distant sound has an interesting kind of depth to it, neither polished nor under-produced, and the whole thing just works somehow.

While it would not be difficult to criticize _The Malediction Fields_ for its similarities to other albums or the occasional wavering of its quality, that seems less important than the overall impression it leaves. In that regard, it is blissfully unencumbered by modern clich├ęs, emotional, accomplished, and well deserving of a place among my favourite albums of 2009.

Contact: http://www.code666.net

(article published 14/2/2010)

2/25/2011 K Sarampalis 8 Fen - Epoch
7/12/2009 D Cairns 8.5 Fen - Congenital Fixation
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