Blurred genre lines can be a tricky maneuver to pull off. While some artists take a drastic tempo shift as momentum to divert paths, or work individually with tracks to create charcuterie board of releases; Fainting Dreams take a soft brush approach, as if painting with watercolor to develop a broad scope point of view that nods, and delivers on a new sound altogether. It’s slowgaze with tinges of blackgaze that bubble to the surface as everything bleeds together in a cosmic gumbo of delectable slowcore beauty.
Throughout these six tracks you can hear influence from dark folk/death country, like the lovely Emma Ruth Rundle, or our queen of the night Chelsea Wolfe. Elsewhere, things plummet to the depths of doomy death, and atmospheric black metal laces itself throughout, as well as shoegazey bits that bring levity to it all. It’s hard to pinpoint any specific reference as the heavier of them all, because they all go together so well, in a palatable way that promises and delivers on both with a specific balance that’s not really comparable to many other acts.
The Denver, CO trio call themselves slowgaze, which honestly fits perfectly well for their sound. Together they develop a cauldron that gets better as everything stirs together, with specific influences bubbling up, that provide a burst of aromatic flavor before succumbing back into the glorious goop.
”Those Left Untouched By The Light”, the eponymous track off the album, is a stellar example. For five minutes, these three develop a very somber, and ghost town-esque ethereal track that carries an eerie presence to it. With an almost True Widow like pace, the three show off their slowcore chops before diving into an outburst of black metal energy towards the end. That shift of pace never feels abrasive, or forced, but rather a natural step for them to take. The last minute of the track finds them pairing each vocal delivery together, soft and eerie, aggressive and bleak fold into each other before everything fades away, and everything calms to a simmer.
“Digital Sickness” has an impending doom wrapped around its temp as everything seems to feel like it’s about to come to a crashing end, a surprise waiting around the corner, but it never does. The vocal delivery comes off ghostlike, and as the pressure increases, everything seems to compound into a louder blackgaze delivery that feels heavy, and relentless. “6:59” carries similar slowcore energy to it. Sounding more hopeful and serene, the track provides a nuanced complexity to their already ever evolving sound.
The album closer “Distillate” leans heavy into drone territory, reminiscent of both the light and airy approach of Earth, and the heaviness of Sunn O))). The vocals are always more folky with delivery, and (as we all know) gel well nicely against the elongation of chords, and heavily down tempoed almost non-existent percussion. As if the concoction they’ve been brewing was completed, “Distillate” gives a soft yet heavy deceleration that ends everything in the best of ways.
Overall the entire release of these 43 minutes feels like a mission statement for what’s to come. Considering this is their debut album, this trio has done their homework, and seamlessly made a quilt of amazing influence that’s directly linked, yet, not ever out of grasp or contrived. The delivery is flawless in presentation, and they’ve developed a lot of breadth, and opened quite a few doors for them to explore further in future releases. Of course, we here at EIN love to say AOTY as soon as we possibly can, and when it was suggested that Those Left Untouched By The Light was such a release I initially balked. It was only January when this came out, how could you declare so early that an album is a contender, and a debut nonetheless? I sit here happily wrong.
Fainting Dreams’ Those Left Untouched By The light is a masterpiece of a debut, and developed with a keen sense of understanding to the influences it’s derived from. It’s an impressive showing, that hints at more to come. In whatever fashion these three decide to approach their next project, if it’s anything like their debut, it’ll steal as much breath as it can, and deliver something that feels unapproachable from the past, yet wholly in conjunction with its night sky constellation of influences.