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Isis - Celestial CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.41 | 100 ratings

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4 stars After their second ep "Red Sea", which was released in 1999, Isis write the material for their first studio album, "Celestial". Jay Randall who had replaced Chris Mereschuk leaves the band. Cliff Meyer will come to fill this space and Cast Iron Hike's guitarist will also join. The line-up hasn't change since (at least at the time I wrote the review).

"Red Sea" was a very heavy ep and the music has many hardcore elements. With Celestial, Isis show for the first time how unique they are in the metal scene. The tempos are slow, the compositions are pretty simple and minimalist and the music is defined as a mixture of soft and heavy parts. The soft parts have a spacey and ambient feel. They are mostly instrumental guitar-driven parts and pretty much what made Isis famous. The man behind the drums, Aaron Harris is to me one of the greatest drummers in the metal scene. While simplistic, his drumming is what helped Isis be able to create those atmospheric moments. The emphasis is centered on the sound. Many will say that he is nothing special but believe me, if Isis had someone else instead, they wouldn't be able to create such dominant-yet-ambient music. The guitar work is brilliant as well. Even when they play three chords they have an ability to create huge walls of sound. Again emphasis is put on the sound. The vocals are much better from anything Isis had done before and are close to the quality of their later releases. Bassist Jeff Caxide, even though doesn't have the chance to show his skills (like really most of the band) because of the nature of Isis music, does a fine work helping in the creation of the devastating parts.

Celestial also introduces us to the sgnl theme which continues in the next release of the band, "Sgnl>5" released one year later. Celestial consists of eleven tracks, 4 of which are titled sgnl>x with x being the numbers from 1 to 4. Sgnl>4 is "the final transmission". Isis keep creating amazing artwork. The artwork is linked to the bands first ep, "Mosquito Control". Look for example at the right of the cover. Does it remind you of something? Moreover the theme of control towers first introduced in "Mosquito Control" ep, appears here too.

With Celestial, Isis show they have found what they want to do (they had experimented a lot in the first two eps). The result was probably very satisfying for the band and that's one of the reasons why the line-up has remained untouched since. Celestial is the first work of Isis that really gives you the image of something unique. Clues had appeared even from the demo tapes but this is a proof nobody can deny. The production is really good for a debut album. It was this album that made them one of the best underground metal bands. After this album they started to tour with bands like Neurosis and Cave In. 4 stars but I would have given 5 stars if they hadn't released masterpieces like Oceanic and Panopticon after this one.

sularetal | 4/5 |


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