Holding Absence
The Noble Art of Self-Destruction


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mateo Ottie CONTRIBUTOR (32 Reviews)
August 25th, 2023 | 42 replies


Release Date: 08/25/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Perfectly Imperfect.

Imperfections are a part of life. Despite this being an obvious observation, many people ( especially perfectionists such as myself) struggle with this fact. If even the tiniest little minuscule detail doesn’t pan out as envisioned in the “perfect” plan, it will nag at me till I at least attempt to do something about it. However, once I take a step back, I begin to realize that sometimes the imperfections are actually what make so many things “good” in life, and these imperfections can often be what inspires the greatest creative and artistic pieces. Life, humanity, and art are perfectly imperfect, and in many ways, make us who we are for the better. The acceptance of this realization is exactly what the UK rockers Holding Absence grapple with throughout the duration of ‘The Noble Art Of Self Destruction’.

The Japanese art of Kintsugi, which is the process of mending broken pottery with gold, making the once-broken object more valuable because of its imperfections. On ‘The Noble Art Of Self Destruction’, Holding Absence uses this philosophy both lyrically and visually to take the listener on an immersive journey of self-acceptance despite the imperfections in life. We start our journey on the despondent opener “Head Prison Blues”, written from the perspective of a broken person at the end of their rope, feeling trapped in a cell by their insecurities and mental health struggles “(My head's been a prison nobody should live in/I'm losing the will to go on)”. Led by drummer Ashley Green’s aggressive performance, the track sets the tone for the album with its 2000’s emo-inspired instrumentation that matches the accompanying lyrics flawlessly. The song also fits as a solid introduction to the new elements the band have added to their established sound, feeling like a natural progression from 2021’s ‘The Greatest Mistake Of My Life’.

These lyrical and sonic themes are continued in “False Dawn”, which serves as a defeatist anthem with a brutally honest look at the sting of failure and the feeling that you’ll never amount to anything in life “(From humble beginnings to humble ends, baby, I'm a loser, don't mean a thing/Prophecies of me have been seen that I just don't believe in)”. The track leads right into “Scissors”, a companion to its predecessor in many ways and answering the hopelessness of “False Dawn” with a glimmer of determination to turn things around, albeit by “cutting off” imperfections with a pair of scissors. The heaviest track in the album instrumentally, it marks a turning point in our journey, marking the first hopeful moment of the record alongside a breathtaking vocal performance from Lucas Woodland.

Inevitably, mental health crises and insecurities peer back into the fold a couple tracks later on “Death, Nonetheless”, which shares many commonalities with “nomoreroses” from their last LP. A grimmer take on the themes expanded upon in “False Dawn”, the song wrestles with the perceived insignificance of life and well, death, nonetheless “(I learned life's insignificance/I know someday that I will be a small white cross upon a pale blue dot/No one will even remember me)”. This is followed up with a love-letter to the concept of death itself on “Her Wings”. While less straight-forward, the song is the most poetically grim piece on the record, and as the exact center crux on the album, it fittingly serves as the lowest point in the journey.

This is contrasted immediately with “These New Dreams”, an airy mid-tempo rock ballad where Woodland expresses remorse for the dark thoughts he had in the prior tracks, finding new motivation to better his life and start anew through the wreckage of his own self-destructive habits “(But these new dreams/They keep me up/I'm ashamed of all the things I've felt, I'm trying to absolve myself/And I've been holding onto burdens that weigh a ton and burn my flesh/I'm trying to absolve myself)”. The vulnerable and emotional “Liminal” furthers this sentiment, struggling with the non-linear and back-and-forth nature of mental health struggles and feeling stuck in the middle of self-destructive and self-improving tendencies. With a soaring chorus, the track is standout song on the album for me, as someone who struggles with this exact feeling of being stuck in the middle mentally and how sudden and “liminal” these swings always are “(Maybe I'm stuck in the caverns of hell and the plateaus of heaven/I hang like a puppet impaled on a coil, just waiting to find my fate)”.

The album comes to its culmination with the closer, “Angel In The Marble”, an anthemic 6-minute track that finds Woodland come to peace with imperfection and ups and downs, realizing that it takes hard times and flawed experiences to grow and improve. The track harkens back to the opener “Head Prison Blues” but as its antithesis, showcasing the personal growth and fulfilling journey that takes place over the span of the album. The song crescendos into a gut-punching and positive declaration that will come to define the band and the album for years to come: “I am a puzzle, I am a painting, I am a work of art in the making/Trust in your hand and trust in the process, I am a work of art in the progress”. “The Angel In The Marble” is the perfect closer to an album about imperfection, tying back directly to the central inspiration of Kintsugi, with Woodland picking up the broken pieces of himself and making something better out of them. The track effectively bookends the album and wraps up the band’s three-album trilogy, showcasing personal and musical growth and maturity through sonic exploration and lyrical vulnerability that can only be summed up in one phrase: The Noble Art of Self Destruction.



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user ratings (122)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
JoyfulPlatypus
August 25th 2023


801 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ahh I'm so hyped for this! Gotta listen tomorrow when I'm at work. Great review btw!

veninblazer
August 25th 2023


16737 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

So good.

cloakanddagger
August 25th 2023


725 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't really listen to much of this style of post-hardcore anymore but these guys are so good, I'm excited to hear this. They also rehearse in the same place my band does and they've been an absolutely lovely bunch every time we bump into them.

KrillBoi
August 25th 2023


424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The Angel In The Marble is absolutely chilling

henryChinaski
August 25th 2023


4965 Comments


need to check this!

9Hammer
August 25th 2023


460 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dig this record and great write-up.

Was genuinely hoping the closing track was going to crescendo into a sort of climax, but it's great nonetheless.

Azazzel
August 25th 2023


937 Comments


Kintsugi is really having a cultural moment rn and I don't think we've hit the peak of mainstreaming yet

MarsKid
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2023


20978 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is a very passionate trot through cliches hmm, and that passion & energy might be enough to sell it. Kudos, this could earn a re-listen mayhap.



Solid rev as well my friend.

Sowing
Moderator
August 25th 2023


43745 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Liked what I heard from this, need to give the whole thing a spin.

mkmusic1995
Contributing Reviewer
August 25th 2023


1579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review Mateo! Looking forward to checking this out :D

autosacrifice
August 25th 2023


127 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

enjoying this so far. been following these guys since them and Loathe put that EP out together. love to see both bands on similar trajectories

Teal
August 25th 2023


590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review! I thought really highly of their last album. This one doesn't have the same highs in my opinion, but is still really solid. Maybe it'll grow on me?

ohtheurgency
August 25th 2023


128 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A Crooked Melody shouldn't have been the lead single. There are way better songs off this album.

WatchItExplode
August 25th 2023


10416 Comments


Hmmm I'm hearing equal parts anberlin dredg and fightstar

ashcrash9
Contributing Reviewer
August 25th 2023


3339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

these fellas harness and propel this sound higher than anyone in the game rn. so slick, so catchy, so H U G E. love it love it love it

Sowing
Moderator
August 26th 2023


43745 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is so damn good

ParoXysm
August 26th 2023


216 Comments


"I'm a teenager in the early 2000's who just watched Fight Club for the first time and I'm edgy now" ass album title, but these guys have some songs I like so I'll check it.

Pikazilla
August 26th 2023


29028 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

npc phxc

9Hammer
August 26th 2023


460 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is quite a singable album. I find myself going along with "SING MYSELF A CROOKED MELODY" amongst others. Very catchy.

Sowing
Moderator
August 27th 2023


43745 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love how these guys aren't afraid to lean into the big choruses



It's not what defines them, but the melodies take it to another level



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