Four years ago, Holy Fawn put out their second release, Death Spells—to little fanfare. For months, the band lingered in mostly obscurity, struggling to get much attention at all. Then one day, they exploded. Merch was impossible to keep in stock. Records were sold out, repressed, then sold out again. They landed spots on festivals and were invited out on major tours—including Thrice’s Vheissu anniversary tour, alongside Drug Church and mewithoutYou. They have become the veritable It band among the heavy shoegaze scene.
Now, almost half a decade later, the Arizona quartet finally arrives with their follow-up. In it, fans will find Holy Fawn trekking deeper into the same caverns of lush atmosphere and explosive heaviness that filled Death Spells—and that’s exactly what we all needed.
Holy Fawn typically describes themselves as “Loud Heavy Pretty Noises,” and their music is exactly what it says on the tin. Their entire writing process seems to be making the most gorgeous, delicate music they can and juxtaposing it with the loudest, most shattering heaviness humanly possible. This pretty/heavy dynamic isn’t unique to Holy Fawn, but they do it better than just about anyone I’ve ever heard. Their take on the archetype is so fulfilling that for the last few years, most of my searches for new music have started at the “Fans Also Like” section of their Spotify page. But even having discovered dozens of bands through that rabbit hole, I just keep coming back to Death Spells.
Dimensional Bleed satisfies the desperate need for more without simply rehashing the previous record. The atmospheres are even lusher, augmented by pianos, acoustic guitars, and electronic glitches. The heavy sections are just as punishing, guitars transcending the sound of strings and amplifiers to become molten blasts of white noise. All of this is done without ever losing the musical clarity thanks to the crystalline engineering and production.
And while it would be incredibly easy for Holy Fawn to write songs that are just stable enough to show off their sound-making acumen, there is a melodic storytelling in their writing that moves with the emotional resonance of bands like Sigur Ros or Explosions in the Sky. Each burning climax is earned with the tension built by the quieter moments and brings a satisfying payoff, like when the lump that’s been burning in your throat for days finally turns to tears. That tension and payoff is not unlike the anticipation for this record and its release, which has exceeded every expectation I had for it.
Dimensional Bleed is out September 9th through Wax Bodega.