Musical boundaries are made to be destroyed, and adhering religiously to a sound or ideology could be comfort to some, shackles for others. There is merit to both approaches, but the artists that take a base and build something greater, an obelisk toward the stars that contains multiple elements and influences, tend to be the ones that create the most exciting art. Having no limits means anything is possible.
I’m sure there will be people who argue that Arizona band Holy Fawn doesn’t properly belong in the heavy metal conversation, but that would be an incredibly narrow-minded way of looking at things. Yes, they won’t rip off your head with savagery—though there are thorny bends to their music—but the weight is instead in the emotions and the heart gush. Their second record is “Dimensional Bleed,” and it’s a hefty mix of atmospheric heaviness, delicate expressions, sometimes hushed passages, and, yes, daggers you don’t see coming that pierce your chest. The band—vocalist/guitarist Ryan Osterman, guitarist Evan Phelps, bassist/vocalist Alexander Reith, drummer/vocalist Austin Reinholz—named their record after a phenomenon where multiple dimensions and timelines exist at once, and this immersive, breathtaking music can leave you gasping, sometimes holding back tears, always soaring through the atmosphere to explore other planes of existence you’ve never touched before.
“Hexsewn” starts as a gentle flow, pouring a dreamy haze that will become a common factor, the vocals soothing as we head into “Death Is a Relief” that has keys quivering and a fog enveloping. Energy bursts mix in with the moody melodies, Osterman wondering, “When the stars blur out, when our families die, will you think of me?” Shrieks unload and melt into the background as the colors blur and fade. “Lift Your Head” settles in with steady drumming and the vocals pushing you into a heavier flow of playing. The energy numbs your limbs, the increased shades mix into the sky, and things crash down with ease, the shrieks picking up and causing your flesh to blister and ooze. “Empty Vials” opens with a voice speaking and quivering calls delivering electricity to the gathering lushness. “Can I move forward in a heap of bones, as a barricade, or would I only slow you down?” Osterman calls as the playing unloads. The thornier moments prick flesh, and everything dissolves into a sound cloud. “Amaranthine” breaks in with keys glimmering and washed-out vocals pulsating, the power tailing behind. Once the energy increases, the playing ices charred wounds, everything merging into space.
The title track delivers a thick blanket of darkness and softer vocals that feel like they’re teasing your brain. “Surrender to the blackness while I am watching everything growing,” Osterman observes as a doomy steam overcomes, slowly dissolving into acoustic strains. “Sightless” enters with beats echoing, the playing meandering through the mist, opening into gushing playing. Shrieks unleash darker tidings as the tempo picks up its pace, barreling into the unknown as smeary keys close the door. “Voice of Light” has a bit of an underwater feel at first, your body shivering from the vast coldness, the vocals feeling like they’re muffled in the distance. As you surface, the dream picks up and pulls you further out, the shrieks serve as an awakening, and electricity jolts, bringing you back into consciousness. “True Loss” feels solemn as it leaks red hues, the drums punching in and increasing the somber vibes. “Sometimes it feels like you’re the only one like me out there,” Osterman calls, delivering a message that can either devastate or fill you with life, the playing feeling like it’s slowly soaking into the earth below. Closer “Blood Memory” is bleary and hushed as it enters, the vocals feeling a little higher register. The gusts land as the track opens its jaws, shrieks sending electricity down your spine. The playing turns from drizzle to driving rain, the liquified surge looms larger, and Osterman ends calling, “There is only time, a circular pattern, a hex I abide, I’ll find you again in some other life.”
Holy Fawn already had done some incredible things, made engaging art before “Dimensional Bleed” was even a germ of a thought in its members’ heads. But this record is a major step ahead for this band as they grow even more confident in their mission and find more inventive and mystical ways to activate your emotions. Maybe this record doesn’t bask in heaviness from a decibel standpoint, but you’ll feel the weight of this thing from the toll of human emotion paid long after the music stops.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/holyfawn
To buy the album, go here: https://waxbodega.limitedrun.com/categories/holy-fawn
For more on the label, go here: https://www.waxbodega.com/