Holy Fawn – Dimensional Bleed Review

Death Spells was something special. Introducing us to the beautiful and devastating world of Holy Fawn, it showcased stunning restraint for an act with everything to prove. While undeniably built upon the foundation of My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive with saturated shoegaze drenching every movement, don’t be surprised to be rattled by swaths of electronica, climactic metal crunch, and a knack for heart-wrenching melody. Holy Fawn is undeniably metal, and like good metal, labyrinthine. This maze is not full of the eerie whispering or the fear of the dark, but rather an experience to be felt and explored – with plenty of scenery to behold.

Comparisons to acts like Deafheaven, Envy, or Jesu are fair, but incomplete. The Arizona-based quartet1 avoids the stereotypes with no black metal or screamo to speak of. Like Michigan’s Greet Death, Holy Fawn instead feels like noise pop a la Candy Claws or LSD and the Search for God with a serious metal crunch. Compared to Death Spells and excellent EP The Black Moon, Dimensional Bleed takes a more streamlined approach. Blurring the lines between indie rock, post-rock, shoegaze, doom, and drone (sometimes all at once), Dimensional Bleed is gentler than Holy Fawn‘s slo-mo wrecking balls of yesteryear and represents a logical step forward while performing at the same high level.

Holy Fawn‘s sound is uncompromisingly heavy, as the central riffs of “Death is a Relief” or the doom pulses of the title track or “Void of Light” will remind. However, like Death Spells, the album largely flows like one fifty-minute song, these metallic climaxes serving as the pay-offs of mammoth build-ups, making Dimensional Bleed far from immediate. Vocals further this dynamic, somewhere between the whispery croons of Benjamin Francis Leftwich and the boyish tenor of Bon Iver, gradually approaching a devastating roar that graces the guitar explosions – nevertheless garbled by the dense wall of sound that saturates every negative space. Breathing room is sparse, not that you’ll need it. Even the gentler post-rock-centric tracks “Lift Your Head” or “Empty Vials” feel drenched in mammoth tone abuse, in spite of leaning into contemplative melody reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky or Mono. Organicity and evocation are emphases, as some tracks forsake metallic crunch, others forgo on vocals entirely, but each track feels like a milestone. While the album’s first-half highlights are impressive and nice-sounding, the second-half slow burns like “Sightless” and “True Loss” achieve a transcendent sound, and I feel as if I’ve heard something important and life-changing, even if my words cannot describe it.

Dimensional Bleed has little issue with composition or performance snafus; Holy Fawn has calculated its fifty minutes to the finest detail. While you could argue that intro “Hexsewn” is too short to make an impact, it’s strange that “Empty Vials” is half song, half ambiance, or the ominous tones of the title track don’t fit in the melancholy that pervades, they feel like darker, uglier threads that add depth to the album’s tapestry. Ultimately, Holy Fawn‘s reception is about audience. Dimensional Bleed is far from immediate and far from aggressive. If it’s riffs you’re after, check out the title track, maybe “Void of Light” if you’d like, then move on. These two tracks, rounded out by ominous tones and frantic drumming, are the only exceptions in an album devoted to lush and gentle movement. It would be easy to write off Holy Fawn as artsy post-whatever for those accustomed to at least some aggression in acts like Envy or Deafheaven, so let Dimensional Bleed take your hand into another world where mosh pits more resemble Maypole.

To reiterate, Holy Fawn is metal, and will remind you of their proclivity towards bone-crushing heaviness when you’ve forgotten about it, but metal is just one postcard in the act’s journey. Dimensional Bleed, like Death Spells before it, is an album to explore. While “Death is a Relief” offers a nice bite, while the title track and “Void of Light” are doom-inflected affairs, the quietly triumphant “Lift Your Head,” “Sightless,” and “True Loss” are true highlights, letting their melodies guide the tracks to an undeniable humanity. While it pales in comparison to Death Spells, Dimensional Bleed reveals the louder beating heart with an emphasis on melody interwoven throughout its bone-rattling density. Holy Fawn isn’t an act that kicks your skull in, but rather settles in your kitchen for a morning chat over a cup of coffee – and you’re better off listening.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 224 kbps mp3
Label: Wax Bodega
Websites: holyfawn.bandcamp.com | holyfawn.com | facebook.com/holyfawn
Releases Worldwide: September 9th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. “Four creatures making loud heavy pretty noises.”
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