Album Reviews

Fen – Trails Out Of Gloom

Released By : Ripple Music

Genre: Progressive Alt. Rock

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Doug Harrison – vocals, guitar

Sam Levin – guitar

Mike Southworth – drums, percussion, programming, piano

Mike Young – bass

Jim Kwan – piano on track 4


1. Trails Out Of Gloom

2. Through The Night

3. The world Is Young

4. Miracle

5. find That One

6. A Clearing

7. Queen Of The Mountain

8. End Of The Dream

9. In Your Arms

Upon reading the promo sheet that came with this album I discovered that TRAILS OUT OF GLOOM is actually the fourth release from Vancouver prog band FEN. This came as a surprise to me as I had never heard of them until now. Maybe the fact that their first three albums were all self-released before signing with upstart label RIPPLE MUSIC is the reason behind them being unbeknownst to me previously, but whatever the reason, I’m glad to have finally been introduced to them as TRAILS OUT OF GLOOM is a very enjoyable album to listen to from start to finish.

I have had some previous luck so far this year with finding out about progressive alt. rock bands and have so far been very impressed by releases of this style from ORDER OF VOICES and SPIRIDION to name a couple. However, FEN is a different beast from these bands in the fact that those two seemed to be more Alt. Rock bands adding some elements of progressive rock into their sound, and FEN feel more like a Progressive Rock band that have added some modern Alt. Rock into what they usually do.

Even though the implementation might be somewhat different, the end result is yet another great modern sounding band that does enough to garner much interest from the progressive rock circuit.

The actual style of the music is largely acoustic based for a majority of the album. That’s not to say that FEN can’t get up and rock it out, it’s just that the acoustic, dark and moody vibe dominates the disc. Take for example opening tune TRAILS OUT OF GLOOM that starts out with flamenco inspired acoustic guitar before an almost hypnotic dual vocal track takes you away. Or even my personal favorite QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAIN that sounds like a cross between MONSTER MAGNET and TOOL of they played Doom Metal (Maybe an odd comparison, but work with me here). There is also an element of catchiness in some of the songs, none more so that FIND THAT ONE, which features a fantastic lyric that will swirl around your head for days. Special mentions must also go to THE WORLD IS YOUNG and END OF THE DREAM that are yet another two songs that will mesmerize you for days on end.

I also cannot end this review without some special praise for vocalist Doug Harrison, who honestly has one of the most earnest and emotional vocal deliveries I have ever heard put on a record, watch out for his effortless falsettos and faultless mood changes.

If you are a fan of bands like TOOL, PORCUPINE TREE or even the softer elements of OPETH, do not hesitate to check out this new release from FEN, hopefully you will be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Written By ZeeZee

Rating: 9/10

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