Review Summary: Young blood with the heart and soul of a veteran act.
Bands mixing glossy alt-rock soundscapes and post-hardcore sensibilities aren’t really anything that new in this day and age. Emarosa had it down to a science in the late 2000s/early 2010s with albums such as Relativity
. I the Mighty did it while flirting with more progressive elements around the release of the Hearts & Spades
EP. Need I mention the influence that Hands Like Houses have on that wing？ In other words, the sound itself isn’t exactly new. There’s a level of predictability that can’t be ignored if you aren’t already attuned to the style in question. Hailing from Cardiff, Wales, Holding Absence is a new band that, based on the sound of their music, tries to mix the atmospheric feel that you’d get from a random post-rock act with that aforesaid combination of alt-rock and post-hardcore. Given that each genre involved in their writing process has a knack for its expressiveness, one would at least expect a decent emotional experience. Needless to say, Holding Absence
not only meets, but may just exceed nearly every expectation you could ever ask of it.
Whether it’s the slow, melodic piano-driven “Marigold” or the energetic yet still ethereal “To Fall Asleep”, it’s hard to argue that there isn’t a fairly diverse set of songs. Thus, this album offers something for everyone. It’s not to the point where the album sounds like it’s all over the place, but it won’t feel like it’s repeating the same song over and over. The more energetic moments feel like a cross between the last effort from Too Close to Touch and the first two Emarosa albums. Opener “Perish” makes this clear right away, as do songs like “You Are Everything”, “Like a Shadow”, and “Monochrome”. The more ethereal moments on the album almost feel like something you’d find on Break My Fucking Sky’s Eviscerate Soul
. There’s no shortage of points where you’ll likely be awestruck by how serene the album feels. “Wilt” sums up the gist of Holding Absence
within a runtime of about six and a half minutes as it bookends the album. By taking elements of each track before, the song bears a stark similarity to what The Wonder Years intended to do with their closer to The Greatest Generation
; that being the grandiose epic “I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral”.
The icing on the proverbial cake of Holding Absence
lies within Lucas Woodland’s powerful vocals and expressive lyrics. To put it simply, he’s a Welsh version of Parker Cannon in some areas but versatile enough to calm the storm. Woodland is already proving to be a driving force in the band, as said versatility brings the instrumentals to another level in more ways than one. His vocals make each song feel more complete than if he wasn’t there, rather than feeling tacked on. Like other singers in the genre, he embodies sort of a “tortured soul” persona, as his emotive delivery accents the lyrics in a manner akin to the last Movements album. Depression, anxiety, and failed love are the focal point for Woodland’s cathartic release set to music. Whereas “A Godsend” would plead out to a deity in a way that’s anything but subtle (but every night, I speak to Him / I shut my eyes and speak in hymn)
, other songs would lament about loss in a more general manner; such an example of that is on “Like a Shadow” (The echo of your goodbye, it lingers like a shadow)
. While it may come off as too melodramatic for some listeners, the blunt honesty in Woodland’s lyricism is a sure mark in favor of the album.
is an experience that ought to be heard to be believed. It may not be the most innovative piece of work, but damn if it isn’t well-written and exquisitely performed. They play the game almost as well if not better than most veteran acts in the genre, and this is merely a debut. Europe has been the home to a great deal of impressive musicians for a good while, and Holding Absence are no exception.. From the looks of it, that isn’t due to change any time soon. As long as there’s a home for bands like these to unleash their brand of honest, driving rock music, we’ll have no shortage of great material that’s worth your time for a while longer.