I’d been too up in Unify mode to check out Holding Absence’s latest single “Perish” when it released last week. “Perish” is the second single from the band’s upcoming self titled debut album, following on from “Like A Shadow”. The long awaited and much anticipated album is due to release on 8th March via SharpTone Records. When it came to “Perish”, I wanted to wait until I could give the new track proper attention for my first listen. Insomnia unfortunately/fortunately helped me out in freeing up some time, so here we are!
The five minute twenty-eight seconds song length was the first thing I noticed about “Perish” and I got excited about another lengthy Holding Absence adventure like the amazing “Penance”. The second thing I noticed was the drumming that pulled the spotlight after the track’s atmospheric introduction. More complex and demanding than its easier vibing album-mate “Like A Shadow”‘s beats, the drums drew my attention through to the chorus on first listen. There was something hectic about it and it shared a rhythm pattern that my ears wanted to make friends with. I also appreciated the line-drawing statement that the intermittent four beats made, bookending the verses.
Though the drums hit hard and impactfully, re-listens turned my attention to the scenes lyrically shared in the verses, and in particular the delicately affectionate second verse. With metaphor-laden sharing, we’re drawn into reminiscing about sweet moments of love, that are recalled as something beautiful. Yet what eventuated for the two is in contrast to those moments, and jarring in comparison; literally having to realise that the romantic remembering is from a time very different to the present.
Even when things were pleasant and he was doting over his lover, the shadowy presence of mental illness was watching and preparing to take him over. When it finally did, he was rendered unresponsive. Stuck frozen and broken, his lover didn’t have the patience or desire to wait while he thawed. She had a life to chase after, and went for it without him, leaving him behind and alone, and perhaps leaving him stuck in time due to the impact of this.
“I had a hole in my heart and you didn’t have the decency to wait and see.”
As Holding Absence aficionados will know, themes of romantic wistfulness and being left have been shared over several songs the Welsh band have released so far (“Dream Of Me”, “Like A Shadow”, “Everything”). The songs form a thread of questioning combined with romanticism as well as darker shades of reality that work very well in linking the quintet’s music together. These pieces are also fittingly visually shared with a black and white aesthetic, including wilting flowers as a visible representation of something beautiful that has perished.
While we get to soak up confusions and questions about love via Holding Absence songs, they also create a relatively safe space for lyrical vulnerability formed by the use of beautiful metaphor, in particular inspired by nature; the moon, the sun, oceans, birds, flowers, fire, light, and shadow, as well as beyond this and into other realms, speaking of heaven and angels.
Returning attention to what “Perish” shares; left behind, he’s outwardly thoughtful about where he might go (once thawed), while still also wondering where she is and fully feeling the blindsided vibe of her decision to abandon him in need. The beautiful delicateness and softness of the second verse captures their innocence together at one point, and also the perishing of this when the darkness set in and the warmth turned cold.
It seems that there may have been things he missed; things that weren’t noticed as a warning that an end was nigh. In my mind, it’s akin to not recognising that the edges of a piece of paper are lit on fire before it’s become fully alight and rushes through to the middle, too rapid/dire to recover from.
In isolation, a cold and echoing atmosphere is all that remains as the track comes to an end. Over the five and a half minutes, Holding Absence hold us suspended in memory and observations with them. We’re blanketed by thick guitars and hefty layers of sound, vocalist Lucas Woodland’s wide spectrum of expression, and an atmosphere we can sink into. It’s yet another reason to be very excited for the album on the way. Watch: