Few metal acts manage to gain traction within the scene as quickly as Liverpudlian quintet Loathe have. They made their official debut in 2016 with EP Prepare Consume Proceed, outing their obscure and unique brand of metalcore, and propelling them into what has seemed like a state of relative success. This gained them a large, dedicated fanbase, in addition to a series of support slots for the likes of Aversions Crown, Fit For An Autopsy, and Wage War, and even a set at the prestigious KnotFest. The same can be said for virtually brand new Welsh act Holding Absence, freshly signed to SharpTone Records, and who currently hold a discography of just five songs, but have nevertheless gained an 8,000-strong Facebook following along the way. Being two young, bright, UK-based outfits with plenty of potential, it only seems fitting that the two have elected to collide for a brand new split-EP. Supplemented by a rigorous PR campaign and an extensive European tour, This Is As One is set for release on February 16th, and it’s safe to say that it’s mustered a fair bit of anticipation.
Following an abrupt and ambitious debut EP, Loathe managed to settle into their sound with their full-length The Cold Sun (read our review here). Yes, the ultra-progressive chaos still very much persists, but it would seem that the band have managed to water this down just enough to allow their conceptual, cinematic dimension to breathe as it should. Their contribution to this EP acts as no less than a shimmering example of this, with both “Servant And Master” and the single “White Hot” serving to deliver us with every ounce of the brutality, melody, and progressive vision that one would expect.
In spite of this, however, it does appear that one aspect of Loathe‘s sound has really been able to reach the forefront since last time: namely the ultra-raw hardcore aspect. “White Hot” is presented almost as a melodic nu-metal track, being for the most part intrinsically downbeat and riff-heavy, with vignettes of more subdued, clean singing sections to restore some balance. “Servant And Master” certainly follows suit, and serves to establish the aforementioned as somewhat of a theme, but does so whilst paying slightly more attention to the tech and djent-inspired aspect of their sound, with the two-minute-mark divulging what can only be described as a Vildhjarta-esque breakdown section. Despite being a mere two-track contribution, it’s clear what this band has been able to achieve here: maintaining a basis of what has been established as a unique confident sound, whilst simultaneously progressing once more.
Holding Absence take a very different approach towards their contribution, and this is unsurprising, because they are fundamentally a very different act. This band presently harbour what can be described as quite a reserved but tasteful and heavily amalgamated brand of modern metalcore, bearing influences from djent, to post-rock, to post-hardcore. Their involvement in This Is As One seems to be a fairly accurate representation of this sound, and little more. Their first track, “Saint Cecilia”, whilst representing quite a significant change of pace from Loathe‘s prior contribution, seems to be more than engaging enough to grab a listener almost immediately; the guitar melody that is later echoed in the chorus section is allowed to ring out during the intro. Expertly delivered clean vocals soar over the top throughout, and, alongside the aforementioned guitar hook, stand predominantly responsible for what is an infectiously catchy chorus.
Second track “Everything”is slightly more reserved and ballad-esque, seeming to follow a similar formula to “Saint Cecilia”. This song concludes the band’s contribution to the EP, closing out this collection of songs on a downcast note. Whilst being far more subdued and reserved than Loathe, Holding Absence brings something entirely different and distinctly enjoyable to the table. The change of pace is abrupt, but tasteful, and contributes to what is a thoroughly dynamic and well-rounded release.
All in all, the verdict on This Is As One is simple: this EP is a microcosm showing two different bands doing what they do best. The mood change between the two acts is admittedly rather acute. However, this tonal shift instills a welcome sense of balance and diversity to these songs, and ultimately creates a significantly diverse piece of work. Despite Loathe seemingly taking the lead role not only in the sonic tone, but in a general sense throughout the PR campaign, the two bands are able to bounce off one another nicely in this instance, ultimately making for a pleasing listen.
Notable Tracks: “Servant And Master”; “Saint Cecilia”
Loathe – FFO: Invent Animate, Reflections, The Acacia Strain
Holding Absence – FFO: Architects, Voices From The Fuselage, Hundredth