Holy Fawn
Death Spells


4.5
superb

Review

by MiloRuggles CONTRIBUTOR (20 Reviews)
February 14th, 2020 | 80 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

Metal is a shitty guest at any party. Even if extended a mere pity invite from a friend-of-a-friend, you can expect metal to kick the door off of its hinges on arrival, announce itself with a gurgling pig squeal, and then parade its trussed up hussy of a plus one genre around the party on a leash, heading straight for the master bedroom while proclaiming to all with ears, “you can come watch if you want.” Inevitably, music forum-dwellers will follow, while other attendees look on incredulously, murmuring seven shades of “did you see that?” in each other's ears before calling the local authorities.

Considering this fact, it's strange how metal is perhaps the most overrepresented genre at any given musical swingers party. Metal often acts as the dom in its tangles with other genres, and in these endeavours gimmickry has a tendency to trump artistry. As the saying goes, you can lead a bluegrass fan to Panopticon, but you can't force them to enjoy the guy pummelling the drums with incel-brand ferocity and screaming like its his eighth day on the rack.

What's rare and exciting to me these days is the other end of the spectrum: bands from other genres that have managed to slip a chastity device over metal's humid, pulsating genitals and a collar tight around its neck, subjugating its tendency for theatrical savagery to utilise if and when needed. 'Sup Holy Fawn, how you doin'?

As the album title Death Spells might imply, Holy Fawn have employed some kind of unholy blood magick in order to bring metal under their heel on this release. As a song like Drag Me Into the Woods plays, I can imagine metal struggling to gain consciousness, limp body scraping over the forest floor, scalp stinging where its captor grips a handful of hair, tugging metal back to its lair. When the dragging stops, metal is hog-tied and blindfolded. The rough sound of rocks scraping against each other is heard, and a sickly sweet smell fills the air. At the song's raucous conclusion, I picture metal deprived of most of its senses, but aware of the warm blood trickling over its skin as Holy Fawn wildly slash at it with a coarse, sharp blade. Strangely, metal seems to actually be enjoying itself through its psychotropic death-haze.

Yes, Death Spells gets more hectic than the band's previous album Realms ever did, but Holy Fawn also know when to leave the gimp in its box. It seems a disservice to paint them as post rock/shoegaze outfit with the occasional wild metal bit, as their songwriting chops extend far beyond some clean guitars ringing out between dick-kicking sessions. For every manic moment like Drag Me Into the Woods' thunderous conclusion or Arrrows' gargantuan, lumbering closing riffs that get post-gazed and screamed all over like a hot pink slut, there are songs which call for different approaches, such as Vespertine's eventual transition from serene gorgeousity to jaw-dropping shoegazing right as the track hits its vinegar strokes. The pacing and sequencing exacerbate these contrasts to full effect, allowing individual moments to be indulged at greater lengths without risking listener fatigue, as something fresh is always just around the corner. Put simply, Holy Fawn have a tangible artistic vision that makes Death Spells feel like a complete and seamless album experience.

Holy Fawn's creative vision is apparent on the micro level too. Details accrue as songs progress, such as the driving guitar line and picked 16ths that define the second verse of Yawning, the show-stealing bass tone that fucks Seer in half after a patient build-up, or the electronic percussion that skitters its way into Vespertine. Thoughtful attention to detail stretches across almost the entire hour that Death Spells lasts, with only a couple of weaker moments exposing themselves in the likes of Same Blood's extraneous late-album interlude or Yawning's (brief) misplaced outro. If their latest EP, The Black Moon is anything to go by, this micro level of detail is something that the band is looking to elaborate on in future releases. In addition, if eagle eye producer Matt Bayles sticks around for their next LP, expect something truly special.

Ultimately, Death Spells' occultish charm and cohesion override my pathologic need to find faults to write about at excessive length. Even the lyrics- buried under walls of distortion, reverb, and delays- build upon consistent themes and images of nature, death, and the corporeal form, furthering the album's power to conjure visions of blood orgies in grey, misty woodlands, wherein the participants are levitating humanoids with curiously bark-like skin. Stumbling upon the scene, I'm aware that I shouldn't get involved, yet I find myself airborne, sailing toward the erotic tableau in a manic and unshakable trance.

You are the smoke
Taunting the moon with its curious vespers
You are my breath
Gasping for light at the top of the stairs
It always stung when you turned away
Like a short storm crashing
It always stung when you turned away





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user ratings (161)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
February 14th 2020


716 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This review goes out to FilteredSeamen. RIP, gone but not forgotten. Given that I'm quite close to him, I'm aware that the ban reason read, "sorry milo" and nothing more. Well, that account was very legitimately not an alt of mine, but I appreciate the apology regardless. He will be missed.



Anyway, Holy Fawn are good and you should listen to Holy Fawn.

parksungjoon
February 14th 2020


21485 Comments


who

Digging: Prong - Primitive Origins

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
February 14th 2020


716 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The only sputnik user to ever write a body horror piece about turning into a shitbox in the middle of an album review. Truly a once in a generation achievement

parksungjoon
February 14th 2020


21485 Comments




sixdegrees
February 14th 2020


9318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

he was aiwaz, hope this helps

Digging: Even As We Speak - Feral Pop Frenzy

parksungjoon
February 14th 2020


21485 Comments


oh.

hogan900
February 14th 2020


3169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Album fkn rulez

CaliggyJack
February 14th 2020


3519 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I vibe with this so fucking hard

DreamAgain
February 14th 2020


1421 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This deserved a review

Iamthe Nightstars
February 15th 2020


2862 Comments


The second half of this is really pretty.

clavier
Staff Reviewer
February 15th 2020


1102 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

ahh, was gonna do a review of this but i reckon this'll be better PR for the band

Digging: Jessie Ware - What's Your Pleasure?

trilo
February 15th 2020


3340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album fkn rulez [2]

Digging: As Real - Marveless

EoinCofa
February 15th 2020


438 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Reminds me of Marriages

parksungjoon
February 15th 2020


21485 Comments


"Reminds me of Marriages"

unironically huge if true

anyone else confirm/deny?

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
February 15th 2020


716 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I was thinking you might pop out of the woodwork for this one clavier. What are your thoughts on this album?

I came very close to continuing the lyrical analysis you kicked off in your realms review, but that got lost in a monumental amount of editing (this review was twice as bloody long)

parksungjoon
February 15th 2020


21485 Comments



"Reminds me of Marriages"

unironically huge if true

anyone else confirm/deny?

clavier
Staff Reviewer
February 15th 2020


1102 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

i find this album quite pretty but a bit overlong/formless at times, Arrows is a GOAT track at any rate

and i'm glad we agree on the themes here, i very much enjoy the whole violent-forest-spirit vibe

parksungjoon
February 15th 2020


21485 Comments


im serious people

botb
February 16th 2020


13932 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This band is the future of post rock/post hardcore.

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2020


716 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, an hour seems overlong for what's on display, but it always passes quickly for me cause the album keeps my interest. I can definitely see a flipside though. Arrows really is great, yeah.



Post hardcore? What elements of post hardcore do you reckon this has?



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