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Isis - Panopticon CD (album) cover

PANOPTICON

Isis

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.12 | 187 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

sularetal
4 stars Two years after Oceanic was released, Isis go back into the studio to record Panopticon which is the third studio album of the band (not counting the ep's and demos). The line-up remains the same but many other things have changed. Isis have become more popular and gained a big fan base and as a result the expectations were very high. In my opinion they managed really well to satisfy their fans and create a brilliant album.

Well, you could see post-rock influences on Isis debut album and those were much more obvious on Oceanic (which was also categorized as post-metal, being too 'heavy' to be part of the post-rock category). This one turned out to be more near to post-rock than sludge metal or hardcore. The production is really good with the sound being much clearer than on Oceanic but that's not necessarily good. Moreover the songs seem to be more structured and the album as well since all the songs are about the same length and are very much connected. This brings the album much closer to perfection and makes it easier to digest. However, the raw sound of Oceanic and its "unorthodox" structure really fascinated me. It seemed more original. It also fit with the aesthetics of the music. Anyway, most people will disagree with me to this and thus it's better to say that the production is very good and let you decide whether you like it or not.

Aaron Harris, does again a wonderful job behind the drums but at times he sound a bit more "metronomic" than on Oceanic. The guitars still leading the music wither with killer riffing or with soft clean guitars a la Mogwai. The sound however is much clearer. Caxide's solid bass playing along with Harris really give you the image of a very strong rhythmic section letting the other members build on that powerful base all the music. Bryant Clifford Meyer apart from the effects and electronics he provides helping in the creation of the ambience he also plays guitar. On "Altered Course" guest Justin Chancellor from Tool plays bass guitar and adds a few sounds.Turner's vocals appear much less on this album and when they appear they are most like singing and less like growling. Like the protologist pointed really well in his review, Turner's vocals are just another instrument and not really a way to say the lyrics.

Again this is a concept album, but I won't even try to write what it's about because in my opinion it can have multiple meanings and interpratations and probably mine would be either wrong or only one of the many. The album's title derives from philosopher Jeremy Bentham's panopticon prison ideal but don't take this for granted since I only read this somewhere and I'm not sure it is true. Turner also did the photographs and artwork. The cover is an aerial photograph and not a photo of the sea like I thought when looking the small photo on the archives and having in mind that water was a theme it had concerned Isis in the past.

In conclusion, it's a really carefully done album. If you are new to Isis I think it's an excellent starying point. However, like I said before I prefer Oceanic. This album was the one that made Isis a very well known band. I really like "So did We" and "In Fiction" (a video clip of which can be found on Isis DVD, "Clearing the eye") and the way the album starts and ends (Brilliant!). To me Isis is one of the best bands in the "heavy" scene and will have many opportunities to prove it in the future. 4 stars.

sularetal | 4/5 |

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