Holding Absence/Alpha Wolf – The Lost & The Longing

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Overall Score: 8/10
Collaborative Tracks: 9/10
Separate Tracks: 7/10
Overall Cohesiveness: 8/10
Pros: A collection of very strong tracks that is a great introduction to either band for new fans and an interesting listen for existing ones
Cons: Still room for more collaboration and ideas to explore as it's only a one-off

Throwing it back to both bands humble beginnings, HOLDING ABSENCE and ALPHA WOLF’s four-track split EP is a unique proposition. The Lost & The Longing presents two bands with very different but striking styles and that makes for a weird listening experience but cohesiveness isn’t the goal in mind here, it’s collaboration. With that, the EP is at it’s most engaging when you get an element from one band bleeding into the other as the two styles bounce off each another. Recapturing that feeling of two hungry bands coming together just to create, this split isn’t trying to prove a point, it’s just relishing in the process.

Half of the tracklist, one song from each band, doesn’t feel too specific to this project. The two without collaboration feel more like the kind of thing you would get on a split EP from two bands still looking to make their mark. That’s not a knock on the quality of either songs as they don’t feel like B-sides. If you’re familiar with both bands then you’ll know exactly what to expect from these tracks but if you aren’t, they are very good introductions into what you are in for.

On the ALPHA WOLF side of the coin, Hotel Underground gives you the staples of their sound that if you’re into, there’s plenty more of. Guitars that sound like they’re being played with a razor cut right through everything and make every riff hit hard. In between that piercing riffing, the huge quotable mosh calls are right at the centre of what this band is. Unapologetically aggro, in your face and having a ball whilst kicking up a storm. This track is like a shop window for ALPHA WOLF and that’s not necessarily a bad thing if there are people listening to this who aren’t familiar with them.

HOLDING ABSENCE’s solo track on the project is Coffin, which couldn’t be more the opposite of what Hotel Underground is. Again, this track could have easily been on their last full release The Greatest Mistake Of My Life (2021) in terms of its structure. Built around these huge melodies, it’s incredibly impressive that they have choruses that sound this big on this project. They’re so good at this exact thing, the quiet/loud slow/fast verse into a big melodic chorus and this is just another one to add into their catalogue. The serene opening and closing with Lucas Woodland‘s vocals accompanied by keys is one of the most beautiful sections they’ve put together and it works really well in contrast with ALPHA WOLF‘s full force energy. 

The other half of this EP is where the real collaboration comes in as both bands stretch to find a middle ground and for existing fans of both bands, this will be where the really engaging material is. 60cm Of Steel has the usual ALPHA WOLF tropes, riffs that sound like RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE being played by Edward Scissorhands, but with a melodic chorus from HOLDING ABSENCE’s Woodland. What’s great about these two collaborative tracks is neither band feels like they’re bending over backwards to make it click. Here, for example, Woodland’s lending hand is used in a way where it doesn’t feel like a HOLDING ABSENCE chorus jammed into an ALPHA WOLF track. Instead, it’s interesting to hear them have clean melodies and on the other hand, to hear Woodland on a metalcore track.

Aching Longing takes the emo side to HOLDING ABSENCE and just dials it up a bit more to make it faster and more urgent with a little less euphoria. Some harsh vocals play off of the melodies in the verses and it gives the whole track this hint of ALPHA WOLF’s attitude. Whilst the chorus is still a diamond of an earworm, it doesn’t have this huge build and explosion like you would expect from them. It’s almost a meeting point between their first and second albums, it has the emotional heft of the debut whilst capturing the beauty and melody of the follow-up. It’s the highlight of the project and best accomplishes what the EP is built around.

The Lost & The Longing both serves as a great way for new fans to get introduced to one of these bands for the first time if they’re only familiar with the other and a great collection of tracks for long-time fans. Crucially, it never feels like a few chucked together songs from some mates and a couple of B-sides on top. Instead, all of the tracks are strong enough to be singles in their own right and the EP gives the impression of two bands with a mutual appreciation of each other’s work coming together all in the name of loving what they do.

The Lost & The Longing releases on August 15th via Sharptone Records

For more information on HOLDING ABSENCE, like their official page on Facebook.

For more information on ALPHA WOLF, like their official page on Facebook.

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