Hoaxed
Two Shadows

2022 has been quite the year for  Hoaxed. While maybe not a meteoric rise, per se, the virtually unknown Portland duo – armed with only a 4 song self-titled EP to their name – landed a surprise rotation on tour earlier this year with Amorphis, Uada and Sylvaine which, when you hear the band for the first time, was maybe the perfect mix of acts for this band to hit the road with and try to make a name for themselves. The band certainly seems to have taken advantage of their opportunity, gaining a decent amount of buzz with their infectious brand of goth-tinged, shoe-gazey, vaguely Americana rock, supported by an undeniably metal backbone that would fit in just as well on the next Lilith Fair as it would on tour with to be honest, a pretty wide range of metal acts.

For those of you I lost at the mention of “Lilith Fair,” your loss, amigos. Two Shadows is about as catchy an album as I’ve heard in some time, channeling the likes of The Gathering, Alcest, Moosnpell and Solstafir en route to nine tracks full of witchy, spooky vibes that aren’t just fitting for the time of year, but I think could also serve as a pretty chill respite from your more normal, outwardly aggressive listening tendencies (what I’m saying is, put the new Lorna Shore down for a second and take a breather. It’ll still be there when you get back).

In a world where extreme metal is bringing levels on intensity to heights never before seen, bands like Hoaxed are exactly what we need (whether we know it or not) to maintain a healthy balance and keep trends from spinning wildly out of control down a path of endless brutality.  In fact, were it not for drummer Kim Coffel’s unique use of double bass, it’d be difficult to categorize Hoaxed as metal at all – save for some of Guitarist/Vocalist Kat Keo’s darker moments – tracks like “Guilty Ones” and “Where Good Won’t Go” that both certainly carrying a doomy, Katatonia-like quality that aren’t so much bruising as they are more oppressive in a sort-of brooding, emotionally-charged king of way.

 

The dissonance between Coffel’s drumming style and Keo’s more spacious, melodic guitar playing and vocal lines really makes for a hypnotic listening experience throughout Two Shadows. As the two get into their groove on a track like “The Knowing,” or  “For Love,” you do almost get the sense that you’re falling into a sort of trans, settling into the rhythms while Keo’s infectious, curiously haunting vocals carry you away into another whole plane of existence. When she asks “Would you die for love? Would you kill for love?” on the latter, it seems less a question and more a demand being planted into your subconscious by a mysterious and magical entity. Spooky! And yet, if I am being taken under some spell to do the bidding of a shadowy, malevolent being – so be it! This album has already sunk too deeply into my skin to turn back now anyway.

Hoaxed also pulls of the neat trick of being both very brief in their delivery, and having the songs feel longer than their modest run times suggest. Normally this could be seen as a song dragging on, but no so here – whether it’s again some kind of magical spell making me lose perception of time and space, or whatever the case may be – these are just really well crafted tracks that manage to take you on a bit of a journey in a brief, to-the-point amount of time. Perhaps lending a hand to that effort is the band’s inherent catchiness and listenability – the cleverly picked riff on “High Seas,” paired with the haunting pre-chorus build get stuck in your head immediately, and Keo’s skillful crooning on “Grand Illusions” buries itself into your head, lingering well after the song’s final note is played. And the album as a whole is one that begs to be played in its entirety, with a natural flow from one track to the next that all makes it feel bigger and more grand than the sum of it’s parts.

Two Shadows is a spellbinding, utterly intoxicating debut from a band that seems genuinely primed for big things. I could easily see fans of everyone from Ghost and Sylvaine, to the friggin’ Indigo Girls and Fleetwood Mac latching onto this duo and riding wherever their whims take them. A brilliant start to their career, and whether by means of the dark arts or just my own interests, I’m completely hooked.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
November 16th, 2022

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