Review Summary: Teamwork
Splits are always a bit more tricky to do a write up on. Not only are we often given only a bite sized portion of each band, but their individual motives and operations usually vary to differing extremes based off of the backstory of each band involved. That being said, there are some surprising moments when this gets thrown out of the window and it's not just two bands shoving out b-sides or covers that got left on the cutting room floor during the recording of their last album. The Foxes/Iselia split is one of these cases. Following a central theme of depression and longing through the eyes of a man on his last gasp, both bands offer up their takes in a musical game of madlibs that works out surprisingly well. Can you say, "Concept Split?"
Hailing from Australia, Foxes take on the recent revivalist screamo upswing shares equal inspiration with the more progressive leaning side of the last decade of the post-hardcore scene. Their song structures and instrumentation leaning heavily into mid-era Circa Survive and Closure in Moscow territory, only with more of a rugged and emotional bite. This is especially noticeable in the thirteen minute long "Withered Eyes Through a Fractured Pane" which twists and turns through a landscape of jumping guitar effects and off kilter drumming. Their drawl to scream vocals keep equal pace as it explodes into a Mars Volta-esque jam that while enjoyable, wears its influences a little too close to its sleave, as during its most frenetic moments it has you thinking "Man, I haven't listened to "De-Loused in the Comatorium" in a while, maybe when this is over I should totally do that". All things considered, though, the Foxes side is a roller coaster of a listen.
Iselia on the other hand take a more direct approach, leaning on post-rock structuring and building epics to deliver their thrills. In the time since the release of their debut LP "Life From Dead Limbs" last year, they have found new voices at the vocal helm in the form of their guitarists. This has resulted in more vocal trade offs and a welcome splash of diversity in their tried and true sound. The effects are instantly noticeable. "Revenant"'s call and response tactics propel the song until it bursts open for its final third in a triumph wall of warm guitars and anguished screams. The emotional crux of Iselia's side lies in "Collective". From the get go it starts out aggressively, and only tightens the tension until it releases into a beautiful piano driven lull only to break back into heavy cadences.
Overall the Foxes/Iselia split represents each band at their peak. It is an engrossing and captivating listen that is sure to propel the two upstarts even further in their prospective careers. If only Andrew Bynum knew teamwork like this, maybe he'd still be playing in LA.