Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Melvins and Isis - Melvins/Isis Split (2010)

This split is the last thing Isis released, which is my impetus for doing a review at all. Splits are the type of thing that I normally feel are best reserved for punk and hardcore bands that can't get together the cash to release their own EP, which is certainly not the case for a juggernaut like Isis (or The Melvins for that matter).

My review of The Melvins' half of the split is fairly simple: all of these songs sound like The Melvins. I'm not super qualified to discuss their music, though I do enjoy Bullhead, I haven't really followed them or kept up with their music. These tracks are remixes of songs that appeared on The Bride Screamed Murder, an album I'm not familiar with. It's good enough, but the real treat here is two new Isis tracks.

While I wasn't the biggest fan of Wavering Radiant, I like the tracks presented on this split as they provide a sort of closure. Both of the songs, "Way Through Woven Branches" and "The Pliable Foe" are outtakes from Wavering Radiant, but I'll be damned if they're not somehow more enjoyable than the rest of that album.

"Way Through Woven Branches" opens with the primary melody played at a low volume over some Nine Inch Nails sounding synth work (picture the intro to "Terrible Lie"). But, the band comes in at full volume a few seconds later with a strong bass presence and a simple melody. Turner adopts a clean vocal approach for the bulk of the track but unleashes his growl at choice moments, and it sounds a bit more powerful than it does on Wavering Radiant. That said, this track bears a striking similarity to that full-length, and anyone who strongly dislikes that album would do well to disregard this split.

The second track, "The Pliable Foe," is more post-rock oriented and takes its time with multiple interludes and slow bridges. The main bass line, however, is stellar, and the song never feels boring, although it is fairly slow in parts. The bass really drives this track and fans of the excellent bass work in Panopticon or In the Absence of Truth will find a lot to like here. In a way, this is a fitting note for Isis to go out on. It's pensive and softened, but Isis always excelled at making a fairly accessible brand of metal that didn't lack for structure or intelligence. The song ends with grace as a sustained bass note rings out on the close of Isis's career.

Part of what makes this Split so hard to review is that I know this is the last bit of music Isis will release. Most of its members have moved on to other projects, and it seems unlikely the band will get back together to create a new album. There are only two tracks here, so it would be foolish to suggest buying this for more than a few dollars, but it is nice to hold on to as the final note in a band's career.
Verdict: Win [7.5/10]

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