Holy Fawn are currently getting the spotlight: their latest album Dimensional Bleed came out on the 9th, and they're in the midst of their first tour as headliners. Last Saturday, the alternative, experimental group played these songs live in New York at Brooklyn's famed Saint Vitus Bar.

The crowd that came out was mixed for St. Vitus, with some much older people and some much younger. It's rare for the venue to have a show where they need to mark people under 21 with X's on their hands, but those were present, mixed with a few people in their forties and fifties.

Holy Fawn's music is frequently described as sitting between shoegaze and metal, in the widening category between different melodic heavy genres and dark ambient noise. Max Heilman described the album for Metalsucks as "Deafhaven playing Sigur Ros". Like Deafhaven, like Sigur Ros, like a twee album by Swans, Holy Fawn builds a soundscape at once ethereal and unrelenting. In a track by track run-down of their album with Mike Leseur for Flood magazine, bassist Alexander Reith said; "When we first started as a band, we had a hard time specifically pinning down our 'genre,' so we just started to call ourselves 'loud, heavy, pretty noises' [...]"

The show was built around that hard-to-define quality. All the bands on the bill borrow sounds and motifs from a wide variety of genres, sliding into a style just long enough to surprise the audience when they deviate from the formula. They share tenor vocals and mournful lyrics played over a faster measure and faster chords, which bears a superficial resemblance to melodic hardcore, but that is going to happen to any heavy band that deviates from guttural vocals.

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LaMacchia, helmed by John LaMacchia from Brooklyn's prog-metal act Candiria, opened the show. LaMacchia has a new album out this year, and a new photobook for sale. LaMacchia played it professional, swapping one instrument halfway through the set with the ease of someone who knows not to rush on time constraints, rehearsed and tight with the rest of his band.

LaMacchia's sound definitely has a pedigree of dark, experimental music, with ominous samples taken from obscure sources, a melodic bass rhythm, crashing chord progressions and clean use of synth. The blend suggests a wide listening palate, and feels a little like taking all the building blocks in nu-metal to make a totally different genre.

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Astronoid brought a good, traditional metal sound to the venue. Like LaMacchia, their sound feels widely inspired by many acts, but the sound they created was much more explicitly metal. Their music was the highest energy of the three acts, but with mournful enough lyrics to fit thematically into the event. It was all music to listen to, not dance, and while a few fans pumped fists to their favorite songs the vast majority of people stood with eyes closed, absorbing it all. Astronoid, from Lowell, Massachusetts, has been doing this for more than a decade—they came out with a new album in June, and their time with Holy Fawn has been an extended celebration of that album, a tour pairing arranged all the way back in April.

All the bands on the line-up are fans of each other and the similarities in vocal styles and musical arrangement is clear, but the package Holy Fawn put together was more immediately like black metal. They sound a little more like Lingua Ignota or King Woman, but as this new genre space continues to emerge, similarities will be seen across artificial boundaries.

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Holy Fawn live is hypnotic, mesmerizing, and the members clearly enjoy playing their songs, beaming as they played. They play a big, pounding wave that dissolves the listener like a pill on a tongue.

"We fire up the crowd and they slow them down." Astronoid said of Holy Fawn after the show, which was true. Holy Fawn left the audience feeling stunned, aided by the Brooklyn experience of a single wall unit fighting for its life in a room full of people.

"We're from Arizona and this room is hotter than we're used to," said the guitarist, mopping sweat out of his eyes. Leaving the venue was like leaving a sauna; dazed, stunned, and refreshed.

Keep scrolling for photos from the show by Joey Whimple.

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