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Isis - Panopticon CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.12 | 261 ratings

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The Pessimist
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I will start by saying that I love this album. I love this band, and its style of music. I haven't really heard anything like this before now, and this is pretty much my first real experience with the Post-Metal genre: I enjoyed every minute of it thoroughly. Panopticon is inherently a progressive metal album, watered down in rhythmic and harmonic complexity to creat some extremely atmospheric stuff. Isis are practically instrumental, barre the very scarce gutural growls and clean vocals, and very repetitive. Yet although, beyond all understanding of my own, they manage to keep me interested all the way through. There are twists and turns, some odd time signatures and the occassional funky riff here and there, but altogether, it is a very atmospheric breed of progressive metal. And may I say that progressive is the operative word here: the progressions within each song are beautiful and happen almost seamlessly. Perhaps the clever use of instrumental voicing achieves this? You would have to really dig deep into the tracks to be certain.

This album is also atrociously heavy. Not heavy in the same way as Edge Of Sanity, Meshuggah or Death, but the general mood will crush you to dust. The atmosphere is perhaps the equivelant of a thousand tonnes of music, and when I've listened to Panopticon in its entirety, I can't listen to anything else afterwards. Even a touch of classical music will probably make your ears bleed after listening to this amount of intensity. If anything, this is one of the heaviest albums out there, even by Grindcore standards. Not brutal, but heavy.

Each track is a standalone track, but it is very difficult to put the differences into words. Even though each track is different in many ways, the album could easily get away with being put into one song. It is also difficult to put into words the general mood of the album. Some may call it depressing. I however, do not. The deeper you delve into the album, the more hypnotic it gets, and apparent depression is replaced with feelings of space and lucidity. In fact, despite being crushingly heavy in atmosphere, the mood of the album is a very chilled out one, which I personally have never come across in all the music I've heard.

Aside from my rant, my preferred songs are the fantastic opener So Did We, Backlit and Grinning Mouths. But as aforementioned, you will rarely catch me listening to these tracks without their successors following. It is that kind of album, and a very rare breed at that.

I would recommend this to any prog metal fan. Even the complex music lovers will find a love in this album, as it is a slight relief from having to think about your music all the time. In fact, I would recommend it to everyone, even the classic prog fans. The only people I would suggest stay away are those that are easily put off by heavy atmospheres, i.e the songs Red - King Crimson and Plague of Lighthouse Keepers - Van Der Graaf Generator. I will rate this album 4 stars, it is excellent, but I don't feel it is a masterpiece.

The Pessimist | 4/5 |


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