Album Review // HOLDING ABSENCE ‘The Greatest Mistake Of My Life’
Viscerally poetic and unspeakably beautiful, The Greatest Mistake Of My Life is a rock-blasting contemplative voyage through life that cements Holding Absence’s unparalleled songwriting aesthetic.
On their sophomore effort, The Greatest Mistake Of My Life, Holding Absence embrace life and death in all its forms and shades as they delve deeper that ever before. Forged in pain and fire, the record finds the band in a retrospective mood, weaving tales of regret, mental health struggles, the monotony of life, the fear of love but also the idea of eternal love and the birth of hope. It is a record built around bone-crunching riffs, sky-chasing melodies and soul-piercing vocals that bleeds with true emotion and achingly relatable essence. Not many bands have managed to accomplish what Holding Absence create with each and every song they make.
The subtle intro Awake is a hushed promise of hope and the beginning of a blaze that erupts with Celebration Song, as the lyrics “I’m alive” soar high with raw intensity and immediacy. Through a tantalising blend of blistering instrumentals and immense vocals, the band paints an image of a triumphantly joyful victory over depression, opening the album on a positive note. On the other hand, Drugs And Love touches upon escapism in the face of mental problems. Thriving on hair-raising riffs and ominous electronics, the track reveals an even darker side to the band.
Jam-packed with heavy-hitters, The Greatest Mistake Of My Life embodies the band’s cavernous sound with precision and completeness. The execution of instrumental sequences is pristine and the abundance of musical textures truly shines through. But it is Lucas Woodland’s vocal prowess that leaves the most lasting impression.
Tackling the concept of everlasting love, Afterlife captures the fires of human passion with the finesse of a poem. Guided by the ardent vocal performance, the march of the drums is calling us from the depths of the song, enveloping around with a sense of unbridled joy and hope. The celebration of love, although laid with fear and doubt, continues on Beyond Belief, the true standout on the record offering skyscraping soundscapes and metaphorical confessions.
Packing a punch with sweeping melodies, In Circles tells a story of limitations in our minds and small-town mentality, encouraging listeners to dream bigger.
Haunted by thoughts of mortality, Die Alone (In Your Lover’s Arms) offers a dual narrative style, further showcasing the band’s storytelling approach to their songcraft. Featuring Woodland’s sister on guest vocals, the track is adorned with a touch of melancholy sweetness as rich piano notes and searing guitars channel the regret and sorrow. Following in a similar vein, Mourning Song is a cinematic offering, strikingly contrasting with Celebration Song. Toying with death, the track feels like counting heartbeats, a carefully-paced and heart-wrenching moment before epiphany.
Tinged with a retro-sounding aesthetic, the titular track rounds off the record in a piano ballad-esque style, fading away slowly.
Holding Absence’s 2019 self-titled album felt like a masterpiece, yet The Greatest Mistake Of My Life elevates the band’s expansive sound to new heights. Quintessentially rock and lyrically universal, this is a record born from a life lived. Exploring the duality of the human existence, Holding Absence conquer their fears in this life-affirming and all-consuming outpouring of the soul, reminding us all that “emotion isn’t rigid – it’s not just love or joy or sadness – it’s a lot of things.” And neither is music.