Through an otherworldly conjuration of heavy guitars, soothing dissonance, and textural space, Holy Fawn invoke music from seen and unseen corners and crevices of the wilderness. Like an ancient culture exalting the sacred spirit of nature, the music mirrors the onset of night in the woods, a delicate push-and-pull of ominous sonic omens and blissful vocal calm. The Phoenix quartet—Ryan Osterman [guitar, vocals], Evan Phelps [guitar], Alexander Rieth [bass], and Austin Reinholz [drums]—hint at such sorcery in their chosen moniker.
Physically tethered to this reality, yet creatively unmoored from any earthly restraints, Holy Fawn freely slip in and out of metal, shoegaze, electronic, alternative, and rock as if inhabiting multiple states of sonic existence all at once. Blazing new trails both seen and unseen as well as heard and unheard (but always felt), the Arizona quartet continue to cover uncharted territory on their second full-length offering, Dimensional Bleed.
In certain corners of the world, Caracara’s second full-length is one of the most highly-anticipated albums of any year since their 2017 debut Summer Megalith and 2019 EP Better left listeners with jaws dropped and hearts clenched. In the time since, the mostly-Philly-based band released a few standalone singles but behind the scenes, something was brewing and it took mounting global hysteria to bring it all to focus.
New Preoccupations, that long-awaited second album from Caracara, is about singer and guitarist Will Lindsay’s relationship with alcohol. “I think what people will be able to hear in this record, and what we hope to say, is that this can’t simply be reduced to a dark and dismal story. We didn’t set out to make a druggy record about recovery, we wanted to examine the journey toward it–to show the ominous weight of the lowest moments, woven in with the rapturous highs that make the lows easier to turn away from. These beautiful moments may be fueled by a substance but aren’t inherently invalidated by it. Just because it ended with you needing to stop doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the memories you made.”
Recorded in Conshohocken, PA at Grammy-nominated producer Will Yip’s Studio 4 Recordings, New Preoccupations pushes and pulls with intention––this is an album Caracara wants you to experience viscerally. Lindsay took inspiration from the writings of novelist Jennifer Egan and historian Yuval Noah Harari, while Carlos Pacheco-Perez’s keys, George Legatos’ bass, and Sean Gill’s drums pulled on worlds of contrasting palettes to create “washes of energy” and unusual arrangements.
Formed in the spring of 2020, beneath the dark clouds of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders, lowheaven’s sound oscillates somewhere between post-hardcore, screamo, blackened noise, and metal. The Toronto band consists of Dan Thomson (vocals/guitar), Mikey Buchta (vocals/bass) and Alex Pley (guitar/keys). Thomson, formerly of Canadian post-hardcore band Sparrows, explains candidly, “We’re not a happy listen, lowheaven is something that has got a lot of weight.” Their debut EP, collapse, is scheduled to be released this fall. collapse explores the sensations of unease and pain through its ever shifting style, with aggressive screams one moment and ominous metal guitar work the next.
Sonically, lowheaven is difficult to place. They take just as much influence from bands like Converge and Isis as they do from acts like Deftones. Similar to the latter, lowheaven refuses to be constrained by their heavy image, preferring to experiment with genre and dynamics on each release. collapse, while undoubtedly earnest in its intensity, is underscored by a sound that can best be described as metalcore nostalgia, likely due to their 90s influences. In fact, bassist Mikey Buchta once described the group as “if Radiohead was equal parts black metal and flower fields.”
The band, who watched David Cronenberg films on repeat in the studio while recording, casts an eeriness over the EP. This can best be heard on the outro of “buried in.” The octave runs channel the soundtracks of films like A Nightmare on Elm Street or Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. This anguish hangs heavy over the rest of the tracks as well, swelling on the final song, “of us away”, where Thomson’s tortured screams intertwine with bellowing, black metal vocals.
collapse showcases lowheaven’s range, where melodic post-hardcore tracks catapult into screamo. The EP begins and ends with its two heaviest songs, and offers a reprieve from the ear splitting vocals and overdriven guitars with “retreated prime” and “buried in.” On these softer tracks, lowheaven reflect on narcissism, religion, and self-medication. The heavier tracks offer a taste of lowheaven’s brutal force. Like a true vinyl EP, each side demonstrates just who lowheaven is.