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Holding Absence - 'The Greatest Mistake Of My Life' Album Review


1. awake

2. Celebration Song

3. Curse Me With Your Kiss

4. Afterlife

5. Drugs and Love

6. In Circles

7. nomoreroses

8. Beyond Belief

9. Die Alone (In Your Lover's Arms)

10. phantoms

11. Mourning Song

12. The Greatest Mistake Of My Life

Welsh rockers Holding Absence are returning for their second studio album, 'The Greatest Mistake Of My Life', released April 16th via SharpTone Records.

The album begins with atmospheric intro track ‘awake’, before launching straight into ‘Celebration Song’ in a very triumphant manner, with lead singer Lucas Woodland belting out the words “I’m alive”, lyrics which return in the track’s chorus. The song is breathtakingly beautiful and extremely emotional, a recurring theme throughout the entire album. The instrumentals work in tandem together so well, with a synth-y orchestral backing underneath the phenomenal guitar and drum work. They bring a Post-Hardcore feel in a more gentle and emotional way, and by god does it work. The buildup to the climax to the song has Woodland riffing around backing vocals that say “I’ve been so hurt for so long”, whilst drummer Ashley Green, bassist Benjamin Elliott and guitarist Scott Carey gradually build things to an emotional payoff with the orchestral elements breaking back in.

Celebration Song’ leads seamlessly into the third track ‘Curse Me With Your Kiss’, which picks up the pace but keeps that same emotion. In the intro, Woodland shows a bit of grit in his vocals, before transitioning into his gorgeous cleans in the verse, and indeed through everything. The band has only had their current lineup for a relatively short time, but they work phenomenally well together, hitting every single emotional beat and playing off each other immaculately.

The album’s second single, ‘Afterlife’, follows, with yet another seamless transition. This track gets a tad more aggressive in its styling, being more reminiscent of the band’s first album. The verse is mainly drums and vocals, with the guitars providing sparse, spacey chords for an atmosphere that just works. Then, they launch into a massive chorus which has the potential to fill arenas. Woodland’s vocals are spot on, Green’s drumming is spectacularly intricate, especially in the verses, and Carey’s guitar work ties it all together in a brilliant way. For me, I’d say this track is the best example of Woodland’s vocals, as it shows the most range in his voice, which I’d wager is one of the best rock has to offer from the past few years.

Next comes the first track without a transition, ‘Drugs and Love’. The intro proves to be very atmospheric, but in a different sense to the rest of the album so far, kicking things off with the sounds of guitar feedback with a female voice over top. For me, this is one of the most emotional songs on the record, with the band seemingly baring all to the listener. Elliott gives the verse a phenomenal star/stop bassline underneath Woodland’s gentle vocals, before everything ramps up to the soaring chorus. The song has a darker edge to it, which is most prevalent within the intro, bridge, and climax, which works extremely well with the dark/light dynamic of the titular drugs and love.

Up next is the third single, ‘In CIrcles’, which returns to the transitions between songs. This one is more stripped back, with some acoustic elements creeping in that play well with the darker bassline from Elliott within the verse, before ramping things up once more in the chorus. The vocal melody in the chorus is extremely catchy, with Woodland showing a lot of emotion, with the final chorus trailing off into a piano line that copies the vocal melody to provide the track with an extended outro, which also contains some phenomenal intricate drum work from Green.

The transition into ‘nomoreroses’ is perhaps one of the smoothest on the album. There’s a darker, tenser feel to this one, with echoing drums between low guitar chords. The emotion is still very much there, but in the verses it feels more like anger, with Woodland providing more dirty vocals. Things clean up in the chorus and remain that way for the majority of the rest of the track, but Elliott’s bass line in the second verse instills a sense of unease, being comparatively quick to the rest of the instrumentals and the vocals. Things escalate again with Woodland’s vocals at the climax of the final chorus, giving the feeling that he’s unleashing something that’s been pent up for a long time.

There is a more gentle feel after the transition into ‘Beyond Belief’. The guitars take more of a backseat in the verses, letting the phenomenal bass from Elliott shine, before coming up to meet said bassline within the chorus. Once again, Woodland’s vocals are absolutely beautiful, particularly on the line “Is your hell up above, your heaven below?”, elongating the note on a second below. The bass, drums and guitar follow Woodland’s vocal melody after the second chorus in such a satisfying manner, gradually building over the verse before leading into a more stripped back chorus. This is perhaps one of my favourite songs on the album, giving us a great example of amazing songwriting.

The transition into ‘Die Alone (In Your Lover’s Arms’ initially reminded me of Twenty One Pilots’ ‘Heathens’, but then the piano started, eventually giving way to a slightly more fast paced riff. This track has a more somber feeling, almost one of regret, with the emotion once again running high. We get a hint of female backing vocals in the pre-chorus, before the chorus comes crashing in with the same guitar pattern as the intro. The female vocals rejoin at the end of the chorus, before she takes over lead vocals on the second verse, up until the more extended second pre-chorus. Woodland’s voice plays extremely well with this guest vocalist’s, however unfortunately I can’t find who said vocalist is. Things escalate once more, building in the bridge before they slow things down in an emotional dueted section, before things build once more to provide the climax of the song, which ends with everything dropping out, leaving Woodland’s isolated vocal.

phantoms’, provides a great extended intro to the climax of the album, ‘Mourning Song’, a seven minute epic that is an absolute emotional gut punch. This song is the perfect way to round out the album. In the first verse, it takes the somber atmosphere of ‘Die Alone’, and turns it up to 11, with a mournful tone to Woodland’s vocals that is matched in the instrumentals, with some particularly good choices from Green to hit the rims of the drums to keep rhythm and soften things. Things begin to escalate in the chorus, which then leads into a more layered second verse. The pre-chorus of this verse is perhaps one of my favourite single moments of the album, with most of the instruments dropping out, leaving Woodland’s raw vocals, which provides one of the most emotional beats of the record. There’s such a sorrowful tone to the song, reflecting the general feel of the album. The song fades out to an acoustic guitar outro, which then leads into title track ‘The Greatest Mistake Of My Life’, which almost acts as a minute and a half long prologue to the album, with a more retro feel to it.

'The Greatest Mistake Of My Life' is an emotional masterpiece that had me in tears from beginning to end. Throughout, I was reminded of the Mayday Parade album 'A Lesson In Romantics', and I very much believe that T.G.M.O.M.L will become an album discussed in the same breath as that record. The band have released a breakdown of the story of each track on their social media, which I thoroughly recommend reading to see the concept of the album. If Holding Absence keeps it up at this pace, they should very quickly become one of the biggest names in the alternative scene.

Review - Gordon Rae


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