In honour of their region of origin, the EP “Stone and Sea” is “a tribute to the crumbling coastlines of Eastern England and the spirits that lie restless beneath the waters”. Incredibly this is Fen’s tenth release, including the first of five albums, the epic and atmospheric swathes of “The Malediction Fields” ten years ago.
This is just a three track work. I say “just” because as ever “Stone and Sea” points towards epic enormity, not how long it is. Immediately we are in the misty world of “Tides of Glass”. The understated vocals are those of a Pink Floyd track, the angry storm rises, and “Tides of Glass” is a world of dark, fiery and atmospheric intensity. Pagan tones turn to a deeply melancholic chorus to end this battleground of a track. Oddly the title track reminded me of Pink Floyd too in its wistfulness. Acoustic at its core, it depicts a quiet scene – gentle erosion of the seashore, perhaps? The style has a touch of Opeth about it. The scene expands. There is no explosion, rather the intensity builds up from a pagan backdrop to a part fiery, part intense tableau. The chorus breaks into this harsh musical atmosphere. “The Last Gravestone” depicts a grey picture through its relentless black metal.
Normally with a Fen album, the enormity takes over and it’s impossible to avoid. “Stone and Sea” is recognisably Fen but I found it impossible to immerse myself in it. There’s nothing to match the epic “Colossal Voids” or the whole of the 2017 “Winter” album. The acoustic title track is gloomy, and whilst the other two tracks have fire and threaten to rise to the heights, I found that the ambience was mixed up, the theme wasn’t apparent and overall the atmosphere was unsettling rather than inspiring.
(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)