I think Holy Fawn summed themselves up brilliantly with their band summary: “four creatures making loud, heavy, pretty noises”. Combining ambience, walls of distortion and ethereal vocals, Death Spells (Holy Roar) is the embodiment of these contrasting musical textures.
The most striking thing about this release is the ease in which the band moves from pretty to heavy. It feels more like a casual gradient than a stark contrast which allows the songs to fully breathe sonically. Interestingly, both extreme dynamics that the band portrays share a stylistic similarity with bands such as Deftones and Asymmetry-era Karnivool. Songs like ‘Dark Stone’, ‘Drag Me Into The Woods’ and ‘Seer’ are prime examples of these contrasting elements working in tandem instead of violently opposing one another.
The experience the album creates is one of peacefully floating on water with brief violent interruptions from the depths below making their foreshadowing presence known to the listener. From that perspective, the album is beautifully cohesive in creating and sustaining an atmosphere which allows enough room for artistic freedom whilst maintaining tone – to further touch on the atmosphere of the record, the whole album is very natural sounding.
From the songwriting perspective and the production choices, the band have worked hard to make the music sound as human as possible, embodying both the order and the chaos of the human experience. Sonically, the album sounds massive – like the band were recorded from the top of a mountain or in a dense empty forest, everything still manages to come through clearly even the ethereal quiet vocals surrounding by heavy distorted instrumentation.
With Death Spells, Holy Fawns have created a powerfully enveloping record with both light and dark musical textures explored and artistically applied, that allows the listener to immerse themselves in an ever-expanding sonic landscape and losing themselves in the process.
8 / 10