Getting a two or four-track split isn't ever really enough to digest, especially when it's a great record. Boxer and Eyes Wide up the ante with three tracks each and this represents another one of those times, when you go in with no real expectations, only to be blown away by the sheer power of the album. Each band offer something with so much emotional tissue and connectivity in this untitled split, that it'll surely be on repeat for a little longer than you'd initially anticipate. It has that strong sense of urgency in its musical push.
Boxer hail from Richmond, VA, and I've always been fascinated with the art, comics and music scene down there. Last year, This Is Your Life were one of the bands that made my top-ten list and really delivered, furthering my affinity for Richmond's scene. Boxer extend that allure. "Contempt" is brimming with the right touch-ups of punk and post-hardcore, which are integrated perfectly using the guitars of Grayson Wallace and Tyler Wall. The backbone they lay is ideal for Wallace's gravelly voice and the cleaner, yet still a tad gruff, vocals of Stewart Jester.
Lyrics like 'What about the boy in the mirror? It's not the man I thought I'd see' add panache to the unrefined bellowing that the dual vocalists lay down, and it comes off spectacularly. The ambition is ever-present with the endeavors of Ian Hurdle's drums, brimming with a natural, tight confidence. Hurdle's a showcase here as he encases some crisp and evocative beats that hit really fucking hard.
Boxer's Undertow was a 2012 EP that incorporated an emotional backbone which repeats here. "Grow" adds elements of doom and gloom tapered over Jester's disenchanted yet organic take on the mic. They may integrate too much angst at times, but it's a great direction they're heading in nonetheless.
Pennsylvania's Eyes Wide debuted on Glass Nail Records in 2011 and they've embarked on showing once more how effective they can be. The efficiency of guitarists Grant Gochnaur and John Gornati stipulate this with such a natural harmony and flow. They have melodies of sadness pouring out in a most profound essence. The depressive vibe engrained, is prudent at times, other times not so much, but the musicianship's just too damn solid to take points away. Gochnaur leaves a timeless flavor with his vocals, translating dismay and despair, with such a worthwhile proficiency and it leads to remembering that this same exact vibe was given off from Kid Brother Collective on Highway Miles, a record that stuck to me so deeply.
This explains why I felt this connection. Nothing triumphant, just a huge sense of empathy and when it boils down to the heartwrenching "Leaving Feels Right," it comes full-circle just how much the blends of post-hardcore, grunge and alternative should be appreciated. "Ordinary" caps off something brilliant, is hard-hitting and resonating in the strongest sense. This'll be in repeat for quite some time and it's an EP that struck the right chords with me. It's nice to see Reveille Records etching their name onto such good work...and here's hoping there's much more extraordinary stuff to come in 2013.