England’s Fen for the past decade or so have been part of the ranks of bands who, starting from a black metal base, have unfurled their sails to push into more atmospheric and airy realms following in the ideal wake of Agalloch and subsequent genie, but inserting a substantial and decisive dose of personality. To consider Fen as a sort of European answer to what was the creature of the controversial John Haughm may seem reductive, but it is useful at least to frame them in a segment that can only be indicative, given the changing form of the sound offered. It should be pointed out, moreover, that Stone and Sea is not a new unreleased work for the Albionic group, but rather it is an ep that gathers together in a remastered version the tracks contained in the split album released in 2016 in the company of the Russians Sleepwalker. The vinyl format curated by the attentive German label Eisenwald can surely be a major temptation for those who appreciated Fen from the first hour, in light of the intrinsic value of these three long tracks. The very pinkfloydian incipit of Tides of Glass certainly does not come as a surprise but represents, if anything, the viaticum to embark on a journey into the fluctuating sound of the London trio that punctually foregrounds the emotional aspect in their postblack, always enveloping even in the rougher passages. The title track is an acoustic gem that introduces the magnificent The Last Gravestone, a track that sees Fen toughen up the sound more without penalizing in any way the dreamy and melodic aura of the proposal. As mentioned, while this is already edited material, the new guise with which this is presented may prove even more palatable to fans, making it in that sense of a Fen work in its own right without being shared with another band; moreover, not a minor aspect, these twenty minutes of music are a brief yet illuminating representation of the greatness of this band.

2019 – Eisenwald