Split EPs are a rare commodity. After a stellar 2017 thanks to the release of my personal album of the year: The Cold Sun, Loathe return with a split EP with Holding Absence, This is as One. The two bands are good friends, after having been on tour together before, and are supplementing the release of this EP with a co-headline tour across the UK. Loathe’s dark, experimental metalcore sound is obscenely detailed and great fun, Holding Absence carries a somewhat similar, but far less heavy post-hardcore sound.
Those who have heard the awe-inspiring riffs and snarls of The Cold Sun will know that Loathe are a band going places. Theirs is a bold, powerful and energetic sound that might take a little while for you to fully understand, but it will stay in your head forever once you do. Loathe’s two tracks on This is as One continue the group’s trend of adding more depth and style to the world of metalcore. “White Hot” features devastatingly heavy riffs followed by quiet, calm moments of repose, much like a Deftones piece, but superior in this writer's opinion thanks to stronger vocals and a greater use of electronics to emphasise experimentation and style. You’ll keep headbanging long after the track ends, but then, “Servant and Master” begins.
If you thought “White Hot” was something special, “Servant and Master” will blow you away. It opens with a savage riff I’ve not come across the likes of before, which rips through your mind, making a nest for itself - it has no intention of leaving. The track is an utterly breathtaking take on the world of djent and metalcore, becoming something soothing and robotic all at once in the track’s quieter moments. It’s ridiculously entertaining stuff.
Where Loathe’s half of the EP brings volume, crushing brutal heaviness and insanely good riffs, Holding Absence provides the calmer, more gentle approach to experimental metal. Both “Saint Cecilia” and “Everything” are anthemic rides through the flowing nature of post-hardcore, but I could sadly never quite get on with the higher pitched vocal delivery of this outfit. Holding Absence make more basic music than Loathe, but there are plenty of atmospheric moments across both tracks. For instance, the guitars in “Saint Cecilia” flow through the background, painting a constant backdrop of hope behind the beautifully sung if divisive vocals. “Everything” is slower, a solid record closer. It’s got a big, altogether far less dark sound than any of Loathe’s stuff, but it is a decent enough track built around powerful drumming and a floating soundscape that brings images of serenity and calm to mind. It’s smart stuff, but Holding Absence just doesn’t float my boat - it’s simply not heavy enough, especially when played alongside the almighty Loathe.
Neither band quite complement each other as much as you may have hoped in This is as One, and that is the EP’s biggest downfall. While acts bands trade in experimental metal, Loathe’s is of a higher calibre in my opinion, and its brutal heaviness and dark soundscape may prove off-putting to those who prefer the lighter, brighter and more uplifting sounds of Holding Absence - and vice versa. There’s a sizeable difference between the styles of both bands, despite similarities on paper.
This is as One Track Listing:
01. White Hot (Loathe)
02. Servant and Master (Loathe)
03. It’s Yours (Loathe) (Live)
04. Saint Cecilia (Holding Absence)
05. Everything (Holding Absence)
Run Time: 22:04
Release Date: February 16, 2018
Check out the video for Loathe's "White Hot" here.
Check out the video for Holding Absence's "Saint Cecilia" here.