TOWARDS THE SHORES OF THE END (Split CD) by FEN & DE ARMA (Nordvis Produktion)
Over 50 minutes of grim, magnificent artistry from two of the very best from the Black Metal underground. Towards The Shores Of The End presents new masterworks from De Arma and Fen, and while most split recordings seem to sound like leftovers or outtakes, the seven tracks featured within are magnificent and ambitious in scope. While the bands are somewhat similar, both entities bring their own distinct brand of melancholy and sheer desolation to the proceedings.
Perhaps influenced by postmodern dark metal artists such as Agalloch and Negura Bunget, Fen presents a collage of darkness that is both staggering and deceptively accessible. The first track Soilbound is an absolute classic the making, with both hauntingly clear and bitterly growled vocals meshing together with a tremendous sense of conviction and unease. Ageless Thenody continues the descent into utter madness and intrigue, with somber guitars and mesmerizing lyrical inflections leading the way into an unfathomable dimension. The title track Towards The End Of Shores sweeps through the listener like an embittered ghost on the sands on time looking for retribution and respite. The emotional intensity of the three tracks is devastating, with a fourth cut being an acoustic reverie entitled Bereft.
The imaginative Fen lineup consists of Æðelwalh on synths and backing vocals, Theutus on drums, The Watcher on vocals and guitars, and Grungyn on bass and backing vocals. Based out of the thriving London music scene, Fen may have a very short moniker, but there musical symphonies are vastly intriguing.
De Arma is the creation of the highly prolific A. from Sweden – true underground aficionados may already be familiar with his dark transgressions included Armagedda and Whirling. Atmospheric and relentless bleak, De Arma present a trio of tracks that are both enticing and confounding.
Crimson Waters Ebbing The Shore instantly reels the listener in, featuring dramatic (un)clean vocals destined to haunt the listener for an eternity. Noemata has Katatonia-like reverberations and tortured growls emitting an even greater ocean of insanity and hopelessness.
At the conclusion is From Horizon To Oblivion – a sonic assault to the senses that is sure to leave a lasting impression on all whom hear its agonizing refrains.
Towards The Shores Of The End is an important work of dark art well worth searching for. For those who think Black Metal has become stale and benign, Fen and De Arma are two bands ready to present unto this dismal world their own cosmic brand of anguish and despair. Highly recommended!
(Review by Kenneth Morton)