Review Summary: Although it has its sparse moments of greatness, "Isis/Melvins Split" is a very bland and forgettable experience.
For about a decade ISIS have been a superpower in the metal world, and the Melvins have been around over twice that amount. Needless to say both bands are widely know, albeit for different reasons. ISIS have been praised for their absolutely pristine consistency and wonderful post-metal aesthetics, while the Melvins are known for their wild stylistic changes. So although a split of two such prestigious acts should herald mounds of praise and adoration, the result is much less amiable.
That is not to say that this split is expressly bad, but it certainly lacks the intrigue worthy of either band. Each band has brought two songs to the table, with each only having at least one enjoyable song. The Melvins side offers a truly fun and catchy song with “Pig House.” The track goes through a few interesting shifts in style, with some really infectious guitar work and vocal performances. The production is pretty great, and boast a really cool vibe and brings out some of the awesome dual drum work. It is perhaps the strongest track on the record thanks to it’s versatility and personality. However, “I’ll Finish You Off” starts the downhill slope at a steep incline. A complete parallel of “Pig House,” “I’ll Finish You Off” is the split’s weakest track. While it’s admirable that it is so completely different from it’s predecessor, the style change is not welcome. There’s a lot of strange digital work that warps the tone of everything. As a whole, it meanders about, leaving the listener bored and under whelmed.
On the Isis side, things are much more consistent. However, the band simply doesn’t “wow” like the have in the past. Both songs truly are great, but in comparison to what they’ve done in the past, the whole is a real downer. Although classic Isis is present, one vital aspect is missing; the climaxes. Isis have always delivered with their intense buildups and climaxes, but on this split, they simply are not present. Each song does in fact build towards something, but that something just doesn’t present itself. It’s like walking up a flight of stairs only to realize the don’t go anywhere. Although this aspect is a disappointment, the whole would be a complete let down were it not for the excellence displayed within the songs. Isis are at their most melodic on the split, and the vocal delivery is some of the best in their career. The product is less sludgy and dense, but a palpable atmosphere still permeates the songs. The songs are indeed very good, but just don’t truly impress.
To simply put it, neither band brings their “A-game, and the product is a fairly dull experience. It’s outrageously harmless in execution, and it leaves the listener completely under whelmed. Perhaps the most depressing part is that this split is Isis’s last recording. The band announced this before their break-up, leaving this to be their “swan song.” Unfortunately this really doesn’t display what Isis, or the Melvins, are really capable of doing.