EP review: Loathe / Holding Absence – This Is as One
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The split EP really is a dying art. Before the advent of the internet, the format was a genius promotional tactic that let two up-and-coming artists tag-team together to widen their audience. But, now, with streaming services letting fans discover new bands quickly and for free, it’s not as necessary as it was twenty years ago. But that hasn’t stopped two of the UK’s hottest hard rock prospects, Loathe and Holding Absence, from giving their four-song collaboration This Is as One a try. Providing twenty minutes of new music, the EP is only a brief snapshot into the rowdy diversity of these metalcore stalwarts, but it’s also a masterclass in whetting appetites for the arena-sized tunes that both specialise in. Undeniably the most musically abrasive act of this dynamic duo, Liverpool’s Loathe kick-start This Is as One with the interconnected duology of ‘White Hot’ and ‘Servant and Master’. The opening track begins the EP by slamming its cards firmly onto the table: down-tuned, Periphery-like riffs and guttural drumming pummel beneath the roared vocals of frontman Kadeem France. Breakdowns and violent heaviness dominate, separated only by serene, Deftones-like melodies and a swanky, bass-powered movement. While ‘White Hot’’s verses have the power to level buildings, its choruses soothe with clean vocals, rhythmic percussion and ambient guitars. Dissonant screeches segue into follow-up ‘Servant and Master’, which becomes a true sequel to its predecessor. High-pitched guitar squealing explodes into an addictively grooving main riff, before a downtrodden verse builds to the catharsis of the song’s primal chorus. Electronic influences even sneak into Loathe’s ever-expanding canon in the tune’s closing minutes, crafting a robotic bridge out of isolated and distorted singing; it brilliantly fits Loathe’s modus operandi of continually breaking down the walls of the metallic hardcore style. The Welshmen Holding Absence, meanwhile, have the ambient experimentalism of their cohorts, but are far closer to the hard rock genre in their approach. While Loathe can be best described as a fusion of Deftones and Code Orange, these youngsters are more akin to The Contortionist butting heads with old-school TesseracT. The collective’s first offering on This Is as One, ‘Saint Cecilia’, is an anthem more harmonic and patient than anything else on this EP thus far. Singer Lucas Woodland soon finds himself stealing the show with his quietly operatic delivery, channelling the pipes of such progressive mavens as Daniel Tompkins and Ashe O’Hara. Rocking chords keep in time with Ashley Green’s emphatic drums as ‘Saint Cecilia’ effortlessly leads into a chorus jam-packed with soaring vocalisations and ensnaring gorgeousness. ‘Everything’ follows Holding Absence’s prior accessible mind-bender by laying out an enrapturing ballad, again driven by Woodland’s brilliant clean singing, which compliments Green’s slow and simple, yet impactful beats. With a refrain of “Love changed everything”, this emotive entry is a far cry from the raucous anarchy that kicked off This Is as One but, simultaneously, its inclusion sells Holding Absence’s inalienable versatility. As a result, the group – along with the equally adventurous Loathe – come out looking a million dollars in this joint release. As they band together, Loathe and Holding Absence find the perfect balance of similar yet different: both names are fuelled by a shared penchant for ambience, progression and melody but, while Loathe rage against the machine with unpredictable hardcore madness, Holding Absence shine with angelic beauty and emotional sophistication. This is a heavy metal dream team in which both parties can look forward to great and prosperous futures. This Is as One will be available via SharpTone Records on 16th February. Loathe and Holding Absence will tour the UK together from 28th February.
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