Holding Absence in Manchester: A masterpiece in the making

Holding Absence is one of the big success stories of the 2020s. While still fairly on the grand scheme of things. They’ve gone from playing tiny clubs like the Star and Garter with Sleep Token and Loathe to being fairly high on the lineup Slam Dunk 2023. Their latest album The Noble Act of Self Destruction is a critical darling and this tour is sure to go down as one of the best of the year. Dark Divine and Thornhill would also join the bill. 

Starting out the night was Orlando Florida based Dark Divine; a dark horror themed Metalcore band. Their set was full of energy and the songs were definitely designed for a heavier audience which might make them feel a bit out of place opening for Holding Absence but they still made it work. 

I’m sure the band is sick of this comparison but from a cursory glance, they look and sound a lot like Motionless in White. Some die hard fans may argue that’s an unfair comparison or their deeper cuts are very different but their set certainly gave a Motionless vibe based on the makeup and some of the camp subject matter on tracks like Halloweentown. 

This was Dark Divine’s first show in Manchester so maybe this wasn’t the extent of all their abilities but it was still enjoyable and even managed to get the crowd moving during the breakdowns which is an impressive feat for a support band. 

Melbourne based Metalcore outfit Thornhill was next and they were one of the big success stories at Radar Fest 2023 and it’s quickly evident why. Their frontman Jacob Charlton has endless charisma and stage presence despite keeping fairly quiet through the set opting to let the music speak for itself, a risky move that paid off. 

Their music is progressive Metalcore but it focuses less on technical proficiency and more about creating an aggressive atmosphere that you can easily move to but still has some incredible skill on display, particularly from drummer Ben Maida. 

Vocalist Jacob Charlton has a fantastic range from high cleans to impressive blood curdling screams on tracks like Views from the Sun. While progressive metal in general is known more for its skilled instrumentalist, it feels like Thornhill manages a balance. No instrument overshadows the other and it feels like the songwriting takes a priority. 

Progressive Metalcore and Djent tend to be interchangeable even though they are distinct in subtle ways but there’s equal representation of both genres. Casanova is an amazing djenty song with complex drum patterns that are still possible to dance to if that’s your thing or to just admire the technical skills on display if you’re a nerd or just wait for the breakdown to hit because they hit hard. 

Guided to the stage by dim light and accompanied by beautiful clean guitar chords, Holding Absence hit the stage and burst straight into Head Prison Blues. 

It takes no time at all to realise just how important Lucas Woodlands vocals are to the band, the power he has working in tandem with his ability to sound emotive and desperate make him an essential asset to the band. 

This set focused on Holding Absence’s latest record The Noble Art of Self Destruction, a record that will be high on my end of year list. The newer tracks like Crooked Melody and Honeymoon fit seamlessly into the setlist and feel like they’ve been a part of the show for years. 

False Dawn is a massive anthemic moment in the set with the crowd screaming along and doing the backing vocals. Holding Absence have an almost shoegaze ambient vibe through some of their songs and it’s really easy to get lost in and before you know it, the song has changed into something else perhaps with more energy or perhaps something heartbreaking. 

The seamless transition between False Dawn and Scissors is a highlight of the record, it presents itself as a key change and ends up becoming the heaviest song on the record with dissonant chords and bombastic drumming. Holding Absence may not be on the heavier end of the musical spectrum but they’ve proved they can thrive there on tracks like Aching Longing which feature growled backing vocals from guitarist Scott Carey. 

Setlist mainstay Wilt ended the main set before the encore, the emotionally driven track feels massive with its use of droning reverb driven clean guitar work which makes the distortion all the more impactful when it hits. Lyrically, Wilt is devastating and the studio version will never be able to do it justice and the same can be said of the final song of the night Angel in the Marble. 

Angel in the Marble is a beautiful song about overcoming flaws and adversity to become a better person. It’s written in such a positive and life affirming manner while still being a massive sweeping arena style rock song complete with scream along moments that work amazingly in a live context as well as the album. 

Their set was rather short and Lucas apologised saying “I just wanna apologise because I wanna play longer, I wanna sing longer “. When you’re in a social media driven world dominated by negativity and speculation it’s easy to forget that there are musicians that want to prioritise the show and deliver the best show they can and genuinely feel for the audience when they feel they haven’t delivered. Holding Absence are a band that aim for greatness and many will agree they’re a work of art in the making. 

Just trust the process… 


You can see Holding Absence again in March as main support for Pierce the Veil. 


Lamestream Lydia

Back to top