Live Review: Loathe, Holding Absence & Sleep Token - Boston Music Rooms, London 08/03/2018

Loathe and Holding Absence’s split EP: “This Is As One” received plenty of hype upon its announcement in December last year; it stands to reason therefore that the live show would get a similar level of attention. Their co-headline tour with a wide assortment of supports found its way to London’s Boston Music Room, this time accompanied by the ever-secretive Sleep Token for a sold out show.

An audience of respectable size buzzes for the hour between doors and the time that Sleep Token take to the stage. For those that had never heard of the band before, one might be taken aback: occult markings, body paint and masks suggest all kinds of weird dark metal heaviness but the reality couldn’t be further from it. The masked four-piece (though appearing here as a five…?), Sleep Token are a melting pot of genres. Stunning vocal dives, crunchy chordal progressions accompanied with down-tuned guitars aren’t a common mix, here though they’re a spectacle to behold. With a back catalogue of only two EPs, conveniently titled “One” and “Two”, their set includes two brand new songs that have those in-the-know with beaming smiles and the rest of the crowd respectfully rocking their heads.

Sleep Token - Boston Music Room - 08/03/2018 - London

Holding Absence adorn the stage with mirrors and incense. As the smell wafts over the crowd, the band joins and begins a set that elicits the first moshes of the night. The band treat the audience to a new track that is received with excitement and wild applause; popular tracks “Dream Of Me” and “Heaven Knows” are treated similarly by the fervent crowd. Vocalist Lucas is almost IN the crowd for most of the set, returning every outstretched hand and smiling face. The incense may have dispersed but the energy throughout the set definitely does not – even during emotional ballad “Everything”, the momentum is high. Holding Absence close with “Penance” which perhaps gets the best reception of all their tracks.

Holding Absence - Boston Music Room - 08/03/2018 - London

With the room now full, Loathe open with “Servant and Master” and unsurprisingly, the crowd opens to accommodate the sea of mosh that results. Rather than incense or mirrors, Loathe opt for LCD screens with bespoke visuals that adds to the already intense light show that they provide. Tracks from their standalone releases “The Cold Sun” and EP “Prepare, Consume, Proceed” are delivered with complete confidence; “Babylon…” sees vocalist Kadeem moshing along with the crowd he’s standing in the midst of whilst guest spot from Shields’ Sam Kubrick highlights the camaraderie on show at tonight’s show. “White Hot”, “In Death” and “Dance On My Skin” have crowd, band all those side-stage happily grooving away. Their performance is heavy, angry and full of intent – the audience is reminded that “this is just the beginning”; a teaser for material to come?

Loathe - Boston Music Room - 08/03/2018 - London

Words and Photography by Rhys Haberfield