I had no intention of writing about this album. Described as a metalcore album themed around love, it did not push my buttons, I confess. However, I made the mistake of actually listening to the band, and ended up being firmly hooked.
Holding Absence are all about atmosphere, created through subtle synths, stirring guitars, and rich vocals. In fact, this latter aspect of the band could arguably be said to be their defining feature. The band’s singer is a talented chap, and positively bleeds emotion and feeling into every utterance he makes. The album’s surface-level concept may be about love, but the reality of these songs is that there’s a certain amount darkness here amidst the uplifting and rousing music, as you would probably expect if you were to think about the subject in realistic terms. The singer handles the material with ease and maturity, and his performance certainly stands out.
Although Holding Absence’s vocalist will undoubtedly be the focus of many discussions about this band, he’s not the entire story here. After all, with such a quality singer you need music that backs him up suitably.
The songs are memorable and easily accessible, latching on to your brain with a slow burning catchiness. Well-written and dripping with emotive intensity, the music works with the vocals perfectly, crafting songs that stay with you after they have faded away and you’re off listening to something else.
An obvious, yet misleading, reference point for Holding Absence’s style would be Deftones. Although accurate, it’s also, as I say, misleading; due to Deftones having such a distinctive sound all of their own, it would be easy to dismiss a band that shares similarities to them as mere weak copies. However, much like a band such as Vexes, Holding Absence manage to infuse their style with such personality and heartfelt emotion that their music essentially offers their own individual take on emotive modern metal. A Deftones influence may be at the root of their music, but they have moved forwards and upwards with it quite convincingly that it’s largely a comparison in spirit, rather than truly in sound.
Despite my obvious enthusiasm for this album, I feel compelled to inject a note of caution here. This clearly won’t appeal to everyone, (although it probably has the potential for wider appeal than a lot of bands I cover on this site). Also, although certainly a very strong album, it’s still only the band’s first, and they still have some development to do and some fat to trim.
So, overall, a very strong outing from Holding Absence. Highly recommended.