Confession: I’ve always been kind of hit-or-miss when it comes to UK progressive black metallers FEN. I think some of their albums – particularly Dustwalker – are absolutely brilliant. There are a couple of others, however, that I think are overly long and could have benefitted from a serious editor.
At a brisk 20 minutes, Stone & Sea is an anomalous little gem in the band’s discography. Originally released as half of a split with post-black metal outfit Sleepwalker in 2016, it’s by far the shortest entry in their catalogue – for the sake of comparison, their half of the Towards the Shores of the End split with De Arma ran close to half an hour – and shows a slightly different side of the band. In fact, for the first several minutes of opener “Tides of Glass,” you’d be forgiven for wondering if you’d accidentally hit play on a Pink Floyd album – particularly when the vocals first come in. Not only does it work, it’s probably my favorite thing I’ve ever heard from the band.
Described in the promotional materials as “a tribute to the crumbling coastlines of Eastern England and the spirits that lie restless beneath the waters,” its three tracks flow seamlessly into each other to create a beautifully dynamic, self-contained single piece of music. Specially remastered for this release by Lychgate’s Greg Chandler, it sounds bloody fantastic – particularly the acoustic interlude “Stone & Sea,” which sounds much more vibrant on this edition.
Stone & Sea will be available on March 8 via Eisenwald. Preorder a copy here whilst enjoying the dark beauty of the EP below.