Review Summary: Dark Souls II?
From its first minutes, washed into view by “Hexsewn”’s gentle waves of piano, it is clear that Dimensional Bleed
is a more reserved work than Death Spells
ever was. Death Spells
, Holy Fawn’s debut album, succeeded with its sweeping grandeur, both in its explosiveness as well as its languorous stretches. Dimensional Bleed
eschews that altogether. It is shadowy and reticent, reluctant to release all of its tension at any one moment, never quite building up to the towering walls of the first half of Death Spells
. More concretely, the tracks on Dimensional Bleed
are shorter on average and do not linger as much in ambient sections. The upside of this, however, is that Dimensional Bleed
never fully lets go of you, not even when it relents in its calmer moments.
is a logical progression from the band’s 2020 EP, The Black Moon
, which first featured the current of eeriness that also runs through Dimensional Bleed
. Indeed, a cohesive narrative construction can be made from Holy Fawn’s discography. Realms
was about the sanctifying (though violent) force of nature, while Death Spells
exemplified nature’s sheer might and magic. Dimensional Bleed
brings in elements of supernatural corruption (“Hexsewn” being an obvious reference). Even its gentler songs are subtly uncanny, with slight touches of background dissonance or noise that hint at something not quite right.
At times, the album revels in the distortion-filled outbursts characteristic of Holy Fawn’s sound. The menacing title track takes little time to immerse itself in a mire of harsh vocals and a slow, clawing riff; the chorus of “Death Is A Relief” is filled with triumphant reverberation, contradicted by its themes of shame and guilt. However, Dimensional Bleed
tends towards bleakness rather than outright malevolence; for instance, “Empty Vials” and “Sightless” rely instead on the gradual layering of creaking textures and off-tune synth notes.
It’s the haunting beauty of Dimensional Bleed
that, in my eyes, allows it to contend with the status of Death Spells
. I admit that “True Loss” breaks no new ground for Holy Fawn, nor does “Amaranthine”; the former also stays its welcome a little too long. Overall, the two take after tracks such as “Vespertine” or “Seer”, being slow-burning moments of relative tranquility. That being said, they serve a purpose: “True Loss” pleasantly evokes the last trails of sunlight at dusk, and “Amaranthine”’s hazy, dream-like melodies set up “Dimensional Bleed” to be an effective surprise.
I find the real gems to be “Lift Your Head” and “Void of Light” - the former with its delicate, swirling motif and ethereal background vocals, the latter with its sudden bloom into a galloping climactic point. “Lift Your Head” is otherworldly, its hypnotic nature not entirely benevolent - “Fancy a sky that's bruised / Black and blue / We can wither to bones / Let me follow you”. “Void of Light”, on the other hand, rips away any illusion of peace with a fierce cry for annihilation - “Void of light / Gripping rope / Crow and scythe / Take us all / And all we hold here”.
, I’ve previously discussed the general themes of Holy Fawn’s music; they remain consistent in Dimensional Bleed
. However, the album is decidedly not a re-iteration of Holy Fawn’s older works. It feels smaller in scope, less imposing, though not in a way that reduces it. To the looming corporeal form of Death Spells
, Dimensional Bleed
is a spectre - seeping in from worlds beyond, haunting your peripheral vision.