Melancholic, mournful, furious and hopeful are all words that circled me in listening through FEN’s 2019 release, The Dead Light. This is the sixth full length album released by this atmospheric black metal war horse since their inception in 2006, and this is their most formidable album to date.
Unlike previous releases, The Dead Light brings more prog elements to the table. This mixes well with the more typical soundscapes and blackened fury FEN is known for.
The album opens with ‘Witness’ which really introduces you to what you should expect for the rest of the album. It starts with atmospheric, reverb laden guitars, as a bass line builds into tremolo picking and clean, ethereal singing as it wraps up. Then, the album picks up and showcases the prog elements with the namesake songs, ‘The Dead Light, Pt.1’ & ‘The Dead Light, Pt. 2’. The riffs are discordant. The time signatures are constantly changing, and there is notable usage of upbeat tempos and major keys through these tracks. It genuinely gives a feeling of light at the end of a dark, cold tunnel, as well as ‘Nebula’, which provides a good breather between the first and second half of the album.
There are many notable moments throughout the rest of the album. The few key ones are the usage of bass throughout ‘Labyrinthine Echoes’, the riff around 3:15 of ‘Breath Of Void’, and the haunting soundscape that rounds the album at the end of ‘Rendered In Onyx’. The Dead Light really gives a full spectrum when it comes to dynamics and emotion, and it does an amazing job in keeping me engaged for the entire fifty-seven-minute runtime.
Overall, this album is a masterclass in atmosphere, dynamics and originality. I would say this is for fans of ALCEST, WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, and later ENSLAVED. I will continue to spin this record, and I look forward to anything else that FEN has to offer in the future.
Review By: Robert Atkinson
The Dead Light
6 / 6