Review Summary: Life From Dead Limbs is nothing short of astounding.
At the rise of the 'oughts post-hardcore was going through a rebirth. With the help of Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come
, Sunny Day Real Estate's Diary
, and in some cases an appreciation for metal's more riff happy side, bands like Thrice, Thursday and Glassjaw became the bastions of a new scene. Over time, what they gave birth to has devolved into the same tepid mess of fashion and marketing that did in sleaze rock in the late 80's early 90s. While it is true that one could argue rather quite convincingly for a scorched earth approach, all hope is not lost. Just as we have entered a new decade, the post-hardcore scene is entering the next cycle in its evolution: the rise of screamo. The post-hardcore world and the screamo world have had a close but rocky history in the past, mainly from people thinking that the two words are interchangeable, but at this moment, with so many looking for an escape from the over hyped and commercialized bullsh
it of Warped Tour style acts, the screamo underworld is blossoming. It's the perfect time. Especially when both styles are starting to take influence from the same mix of older hardcore and newer instrumental rock. This is not exactly a new venture on either side, Thrice had Vheissu
and Envy has made a career out of it, but never has the influence of bands like Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor been greater amongst the two styles, just look at Pianos Become the Teeth and Moving Mountains. Where it used to be that the high gain distortion pedal/amp was the main work horse of a band's arsenal, it's now a pedal board maxed out with botique reverb and delay pedals.
Iselia are among a handful of upstarts that have birthed at just the right time to enter as part of this post-hardcore rebirthing process. Their debut EP Adaptations
showed that they had the potential to grab this opportunity by the reins, but where it soared on ideas it was hampered in presentation. The EP's production was somewhat one-sided and thin, leaving its crescendos in want of a much needed boost. Their new full length Life From Dead Limbs
changes that. Now it is clear that Iselia have not only taken hold of those reins, but are steering themselves towards big big things. Life From Dead Limbs
is not only the perfect next step for these North Carolinian skramzters, it is also a perfect example of all the power and beauty that the genre can offer.
Life From Dead Limbs
is hauntingly intimate yet triumphantly grandiose. This is due to its flawless juxtaposition of minimalist layering, each part so simple yet so vital, to build a tightly woven tapestry of beautiful sounds mixed with the cathartic release that is Jason Cruz's vocal performance. Just take “Assurance, Uphold” for example. The groundwork of the song is the melancholy cadence of the underlying guitar work and the ever present tension in the rhythm section, but what makes it the towering centerpiece of Life From Dead Limbs
is the usage of slide guitar volume swells, wet with effects, to tug on the heart strings before the immediacy in Cruz's rasp brings it to a stunning close. This tug of war between the emotional and the violent is seen throughout the entirety of Life From Dead Limbs
. The flow of the album furthers this experience. The introductory “First Seed”/”Last Leaf” sets the mood from the start as it reaches multiple crescendos, like an aural roller coaster bringing you to a peak before having it all drop out from you to build speed for the next ascent. If “Last Leaf” is the first harrowing rise on this ride, “These Roots, These Branches” and “Dead Limbs” are the twists and turns before it starts to climb even higher on “Assurance, Uphold” as they are imbued with a sense of motion that bobs and weaves through the cratered landscape Iselia have created. The album's second half carries on in much the same way with “At Day's Close” as its emotional anchor and tracks like the “Restless” and the uproarious “The Great Kharlan”swirling around it. It truly is a sweet sound to behold.
What Iselia have done on Life From Dead Limbs
is nothing short of astounding. It is the kind of album that one gets lost in, each little nuance is a passage way to something greater in the listening experience. Even more, at a time like this when the screamo world is full of aspiring standouts, it is Iselia's announcement to the world that they can go toe to toe with the big boys. With Life From Dead Limbs
there is no reason why Iselia shouldn't be sitting right along side acts like Pianos Become the Teeth, Moving Mountains, Touche Amore, and Envy in the minds of screamo and post-hardcore fans world wide.