Cardiff troupe Holding Absence have been building a solid reputation over their now four-year tenure. From showing promise on split EP ‘This Is As One’ last year to appearances at Slam Dunk Festival, their long-awaited self-titled debut not only meets expectations, but also shows an ambition that few artists would attempt so early in their career.
‘Perish’ starts the release, incorporating slowly moving pads to add a shimmering undercurrent to the angular guitars that drive the claustrophobic track. Playing contrasting elements, it jumps from hard-hitting riffs to delicately finger-picked clean guitars and intimate vocals. Whilst a common technique in current post-hardcore, the group inject life into it with furious drum patterns and a disregard for conventional structure, culminating in a soaring coda.
Indeed, throughout the band’s debut opus they continue to create captivating moments at every turn. From the irregular drum patterns and screams in ‘You Are Everything’ to the catchy hook of “Stay a little longer” found on ‘Like A Shadow’, there’s absolutely no shortage of discoveries to be made.
‘Marigold’, however, is truly where the album begins to ascend. Based on a simple piano motif and vocalist Lucas Woodland‘s display of his incredible range and control, this song could easily have coasted on these two elements alone. Instead, it employs reversed vocal samples and a prominent focus on intonation to make it a standout on an already sterling release.
As the record progresses, Holding Absence begin to unveil glimpses of their capabilities and potentials that are astounding even when only barely touched upon. ‘A Godsend’ scuttles through tense fingerpicked guitars and violent drum fills to intimate vocal performances, whilst ‘Purge’ delivers a dream pop inspired performance that defies its short runtime.
Even with an already strong statement of will and intent put forward, closer ‘Wilt’ manages to encompass the record in just over six minutes. Starting with rising strings and a tentative piano melody, the track soon delves into harmonically rich guitar lines and soft vocal melodies. Utilising dynamic peaks and twisting hooks, it continues to build tension before exploding into juddering overdriven chords, overlapping vocal melodies, and hammering drums.
Whilst the creation and public presentation of this record is something that has been awaited for a long time now, Holding Absence prove that art cannot be rushed, relinquishing a stellar debut that bares the human soul, emotion, and conviction in abundance.