After bonding at the Impericon Festival back in 2019, Sharptone Records labelmates Alpha Wolf and Holding Absence have kept in touch, much to their fans’ benefit. Their new EP split The Lost & The Longing consists of four strong tracks, including two collaborations between each band – collaborations none of us knew we needed.
First on the Alpha Wolf side is ‘60cm Of Steel’, setting you up for the split’s brooding nature with an impending intro that picks up into eerie yet immense melodies. Vocalist Lochie Keogh spits strategically placed rhythms through his brutal screams over the jumbled guitar chugs and dissonance, until Holding Absence frontman Lucas Woodland breaks in for the chorus chant. The grit Woodland puts into his cleans brings the perfect amount of contrast between each section that flows seamlessly, making Keogh’s harsher vocals all the more satisfying each time they return. The slow-burning breakdown at the end provides a smooth lead-in to the glitchy panic chords of ‘Hotel Underground’. The grating discordance of the instrumentals epitomize feelings of severe anxiety eating at your brain – what better stimulus for a good cathartic mosh?
With the help of Alpha Wolf, Holding Absence made what may be their heaviest song yet, ‘Aching Longing’. Opening with their signature atmospheric yet bellowing guitar tones, the drums quickly escalate from brewing cymbal hits to pummeling madness as the soaring vocals come in. The song is packed with everything any Holding Absence fan craves from them, from a massive chorus to impassioned screams over an ethereal backdrop. Keogh joins in on screams for the rampaging bridge, with pounding drum fills wisely arranged to underline the vocal patterns. Every element combined makes for a banger that will give listeners the urge to throw down in a field of roses on a rainy day.
Final track ‘Coffin’ is a solid demonstration of the opposite end of Holding Absence’s songwriting expertise, giving a lighter finish to an otherwise heavy EP. Woodland’s range shines brighter than ever for this one, showing nearly everything he’s capable of. His softer side is executed beautifully for the verses, making his belts strike like lightning for each chorus. Between this, ‘Aching Longing’ and his feature on ‘60cm Of Steel’, he’s like a vocal chameleon – whatever context the music places him in, he always does it justice with flawless technique and creativity. Whether it be delicate piano, vicious breakdowns or anywhere in between, he takes what he’s given to new heights that continue to blow listeners away.
Between Alpha Wolf’s raging metalcore edge and Holding Absence’s titanic rock sound, they tied together two opposite ends of their community’s spectrum for an exceptional result.
Releases like this prove exactly why different levels of heaviness shouldn’t be gatekept.
9 / 10