Holding Absence / Alpha Wolf - 'The Lost & The Longing' Split EP Review
1. 60 CM Of Steel (Alpha Wolf feat. Holding Absence)
2. Hotel Underground (Alpha Wolf)
3. Aching Longing (Holding Absence feat. Alpha Wolf)
4. Coffin (Holding Absence)
Australian Metalcore five piece Alpha Wolf and Welsh Post-Hardcore outfit Holding Absence have come together to release a four song split-EP 'The Lost & The Longing' via Sharptone Records, released on the 15th of August.
The EP kicks off with the blistering ‘60 CM of Steel’, the first of two songs that feature both bands. You know exactly what you’re in for within the opening moments of the track, with guitarist Scottie Simpson playing a dark, brooding riff with bursts of energy from the rest of the band, before launching into the more brutal main body of the song. Lead vocalist Lochie Keogh’s signature growls are phenomenal throughout this track and work in beautiful harmony with the rest of the band, as we have come to expect with Alpha Wolf, however there are two standout moments within this track for me; the breakdown, which Alpha Wolf have arguably perfected, and Holding Absence’s Lucas Woodland’s guest vocals. This is a side of Woodland we’ve seen glimpses of in Holding Absence’s releases, however I believe this is the heaviest we have ever heard him go, which is a testament to the man’s sheer talent and range.
The EP continues on to Alpha Wolf’s solo contribution ‘Hotel Underground’, yet another brutal offering. Beginning with glitchy effects with more sudden bursts of explosive energy from the entire band, you immediately know exactly how heavy this song is going to be from the get-go. The chugs and riffs from guitarists Simpson and Sabian Lynch compliment the insanely brutal vocals from Keogh and bassist/vocalist John Arnold perfectly, whilst Arnold also plays intricate basslines that provide a diamond-hard backbone for the entire track along with drummer Mitch Fogarty’s blistering beats, this track proves how alive and well the Metalcore scene truly is, especially in the final forty seconds of its short run time.
Now for the back half of the EP, which is Holding Absence’s time to shine. In the past we’ve seen them go between heavy and melodic tracks on the same releases, but ‘Aching Longing’, featuring Alpha Wolf, shows how well they do it within the same song. The opening sets the tempo for the track with screeching guitars and intense drum fills that lead in to Woodland’s signature melodic vocals, this time tinted with a tonne of grit. The chorus takes a more melodic edge, especially within the vocals, but then guitarist Scott Carey, drummer Ash Green and bassist Benjamin Elliot bring the energy back in full force to match Woodland’s gritty vocals. And then comes Alpha Wolf’s portion of the song, which lets Carey, Green and Elliot really flex their talent, and I have to say it is absolutely beautiful. I was fortunate enough to see the live debut of this track at Download Festival, and then once again at 2000 Trees, and the live performance is even more amazing, even with the absence of Alpha Wolf.
The final track of the EP comes in the form of the track ‘Coffin’, a slightly slower, more reflective effort than the rest of the album, but that certainly does not mean that it lacks energy. The lads in Holding Absence have shown before that they manage to fit high emotion and a ponderous mood into tracks that don’t lack in pace or energy, and ‘Coffin’ is another string to that bow. It begins and ends with Woodland’s vocals over sustained piano chords, something that compliments the softer side of his vocal chops amazingly. The beginning of the track is slowly built, with Carey’s guitars and Elliot’s bass only fully joining just over a minute into the track, exploding in whilst still complimenting the emotion of the track, then leading to a moment with acoustic guitars over the piano. Each member of this band is insanely talented, and they each complement each other perfectly, and personally I would say that this song is the perfect encapsulation of Holding Absence.
I was introduced to both Holding Absence and Alpha Wolf at a fairly similar time, but if you’d told me then that they would release a split EP, I would’ve been extremely sceptical. However, both bands came together to make something absolutely phenomenal. Despite the seemingly different styles, they complement each other beautifully. Nothing seems out of place and the EP has a clear flow and natural progression to it that is extremely difficult to get right between two separate artists. This is, perhaps, my favourite release of the year so far.
Alpha Wolf Website - www.alphawolfcvlt.com
Alpha Wolf Facebook - www.facebook.com/alphawolfcvlt
Holding Absence Website - www.holdingabsence.com
Holding Absence Facebook - www.facebook.com/holdingabsence
Review - Gordon Rae