For something to be chaotic by nature, the implication follows that it is either bad, or too much to handle. In the case of Fawn Limbs’ latest offering neither of these apply. Being hectic and chaotic actually grounds the band, paradoxically providing a structure for us listeners. Sleeper Vessels is the band’s second full-length album, being released just over a year after their critically acclaimed debut effort Harm Remissions – their frantic release schedule fits the music perfectly. Despite the record opening with a slow, ominous rumble with a delicate guitar underneath it, only 42 seconds pass before Fawn Limb fly into their assault and for the next 28 minutes there’s barely a moment to breathe.
Obviously there are going to be similarities drawn to bands like Car Bomb – Fawn Limb even tries its hand at the laser beam sounding guitar – and Frontierer (the record being mixed by Pedram Valiani) but what this band does isn’t an imitation of those bands, rather a further progression of the mathgrind genre. One thing is for certain though, Fawn Limbs don’t make their music an easy listen. Not to say that Sleeper Vessels is particularly challenging, but such is the constant barrage of odd time signatures, guttural vocals and shredding guitars that at times it really puts your brain in a spin and leaves a massive sense of “what the fuck just happened?”
Even when we appear to be out of the woods, such as the slower pace and more conventional structure of the title track, it’s all in service of lulling us into a false sense of security before being punched right in the face by follow-up ‘Ruiner’, which honestly my brain could not comprehend or the first 20 seconds. But for all its frantic nature and how mind boggling this record is, Fawn Limbs are clearly incredible musicians, with riffs for days and drumming which is almost godlike; truly a force to be reckoned with. Having only been a band since 2018, if this is what Fawn Limbs are capable after record number two, then it only makes you wonder what the future has in store for them, and even if the ride of Sleeper Vessels leaves you feeling a bit queasy, you’ll be raring to take another ride soon.
Words: Tim Birkbeck