Holding Absence fans: Your favourite album just got better! The Welsh quartet have released a deluxe version of their self-titled album. The expanded edition includes previously unreleased single “Here Forever”, as well as live acoustic versions of songs from the self-titled album. It also includes a live acoustic version of “Saint Cecilia”, which was released as part of the This Is As One split EP with SharpTone Records labelmates Loathe.

Given that the first version of the album was released in March, it’s lovely to have something new from the band. It’s also perhaps a timely reminder; to have Holding Absence deservingly find its way onto Album Of The Year 2019 lists.

The 11 tracks of the album are made ever more delicious with a virtual live acoustic set that’s full of thuds, coughs, background noises, and other flaws. In their rawness, they serve as a way for fans to vicariously be up front and attentive at a Holding Absence gig, no matter how far away they are… and of course belt out the songs along with their band.

Meandering through a six song set, (which seems to be the same setting of which the band has shared a video for “Wilt”) these live additions also reinforce the sheer skill of Holding Absence, most notably the prowess of vocalist Lucas Woodland and his knack for hitting effortless peaks. And instrumentally, even in this format, the tortured atmosphere, the questioning and yearning, and the moods of despondency… it’s all here, with subtle tweaks along the way.

But “Here Forever” was the best surprise of all; a new song from the band, just quietly tucked in there before the acoustic songs. Described as a song that “just didn’t make the album”, “Here Forever” is just as poignant and impactful as its album-mates. It contains the ache that songs like “Your Love (Has Ruined My Life)” carry, and is as atmospherically stunning.

Exploring the sense of something internal having the protagonist feeling ill at ease, “Here Forever” offers a confession of existing in this state. They may appear fine but are living permanently haunted and afflicted. Looped gentle melodies come eerily with lines like “There’s so much inside of me I’m trying to kill”, painting beautiful unease when combined together.

I love that the lyrics have been kneaded in a format that has the singalong chorus seem to feature “whoa-ohh”s, when it’s literally “Woe”, “Sorrows”, and “Hope” that then lead into the following line. I also love the clever pairing of “pilgrimage” with “pure grim image”, and the emotional thud left by:

“The only difference between
a rut and a grave
is the depth”

Tumbling and gentle, the fog of the song persists into the second verse, before frustration bleeds out through to another appearance of the chorus. It’s a case of tension continuing to climb, in an answerless void, where the cries we hear from Lucas may be futile ones. With no hope to be found, and also a fear of death, the protagonist is “here forever”; living in this state of pained existence.

Watch the lyric video below, and listen to Holding Absence (Deluxe Version) here: https://www.shrptn.co/holdingabsence

 

Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it. [Loved the read? Shout Kel a latte.]

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