Shadow is the debut release from Oakland, California’s post-punk/darkwave outfit Fearing. Released via Funeral Party records where they previously released two EPs in the past. Fearing takes their own blend of European darkwave mixed with shades of goth rock and French coldwave, with a few cues from shoegaze’s initial foray sprinkled in. The band utilizes stark melodies to create gloomy soundscapes, illustrating imagery that can entice dark and deep-seated emotions.
Fearing formed in 2016 when James Rogers (bass and vocals) decided to collaborate with Brian Vega (guitar and vocals) on their bedroom pop projects. The additions of Joey Camello (guitar) and Mike Fenton (drums) rounded out the whole group, resulting in two EPs and a handful of tours around the bay area and the west coast.
This record is dark and dreamy, with sound design and mixing that creates an intriguing world steeped in 80’s nostalgia, except in this version, retro-futurism meets a more sophisticated digital glow afforded by modern songwriting techniques.
“Catacombs” is claustrophobic in a I-wanna-hug-myself kind of way. The atmosphere feels strained and closed off as luminous synths overlay a deep and brooding combination of cold reverbed vocals and haunting melodies.
“Picture Perfect” is headlined by snappy percussive beats and a constant wave of synth noise. It’s as if the atmosphere is being bombarded on all sides by solar flare, where grainy textures acting like waves of light clamoring to get a hold of your emotions. This style of music lends itself well to a cinematic vibe, and this song embodies that the most in the album. “The Push” follows a similar formula. It starts with a heavy pulsing of pounding drums, while synth lines branch out like veins, giving lifeblood to the melody. Nostalgic and sorrowful, exactly par for the course for any darkwave track.
Other odd yet interesting cuts here are “Trail of Grief”, which most closely resembles 80’s new wave rock with a full ensemble of drums, guitar and bass. This is topped with low growling vocals that seems to have been dragged down to the depths of the earth. “Glow” is the lightest track of the collection, with synths slathered in a crystalline hue. Yet there’s a sinister undertone that envelops the whole mix, as if the hopeful emotion of the soaring synths are being held back by an eerie entity.
This is Fearing’s first try at a full-length album, and I must say they’ve hit the conventions of the genre fairly well and are surely on track for a promising future.