Experimental/Post Metal

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Isis Wavering Radiant album cover
4.06 | 158 ratings | 16 reviews | 34% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hall Of The Dead (7:41)
2. Ghost Key (8:31)
3. Hand Of The Host (10:45)
4. Wavering Radiant (1:50)
5. Stone To Wake A Serpent (8:33)
6. 20 Minutes / 40 Years (7:07)
7. Threshold of Transformation (9:53)

Total Time 54:20


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Aaron Turner / vocals,guitar
- Mike Gallagher / guitar
- Jeff Caxide / bass
- Aaron Harris / drums
- Bryant Clifford Meyer / electronics

Releases information

Adam Jones (Tool) Guitar on Track 1, Keyboards on track 4
CD Ipecac Recordings (2009)

Thanks to TheProgtologist for the addition
and to Dim for the last updates
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Ipecac Recordings 2014
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ISIS Wavering Radiant ratings distribution

(158 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(34%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

ISIS Wavering Radiant reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dim
4 stars Isis is a band that needs no introduction, they are at the very tip of the ruthless spearhead that is post metal. Since their breakout album "Oceanic" They've influenced bands from the mammoth instro-metal band Pelican, to the brutal hardcore band The Ocean, to the psychedelic sludge band Minsk, and Isis' legacy grows with Wavering Radiant.

After what many consider their masterpiece Panopticon, the band took a new direction towards a less up tight, and slightly more primal, maybe tribal sound with In the Absence of Truth. I for one was very disappointed with that album, I felt like they were blending their sludgy sound with Tool's very open, yet technical sound, leaving me feeling like it was an unoriginal, and awkward mix. With Wavering Radiant though, I think the group found what they were looking for! Heavier textures, but with a softer, more progressive feel!

The first thing I noticed on this album is that the mixing is incredibly different. They've stepped off the distortion quite a bit so that both guitars can easily be distinguished from one another, which came out absolutely flawless! This however almost completely leaves their sludgy sound completely out in the snow, only coming up during the climaxes of Ghost key, and Hand of the Host. The bass has been turned up quite a bit, giving us the view of Jeff Caxide's incredibly melodic style of bass playing, along with his dreamy texturing achieved with pumped up delay and chorus. Thankfully both of Aaron's style of singing have been turned up significantly , so he;s not just groaning in the background anymore. I should also mention that this album is much more lyrical, more singing, more growling, giving the album more of a sense of direction, despite the lack of the standard pop structures (and thank God for that). Easily the most notable difference in the sound is the keyboards. Not only have they been pumped up considerably, but they add so much more to the music than ever before. Instead of just background chords and soundscapes, Meyer actually uses the keys for making strong melodies and even leads in some songs.

With all that being said, this album isn't ridiculously different from Panopticon or ItAoT, they stick to their roots by starting most of their songs at a slow, brooding pace, and slowly climax into incredibly heavy sections. Hall of the Dead opens the album on a different note, played to chugging guitars, and spacey keys, as the song goes on, you can hear how the song is pretty experimental with the help of Danny Carey, and some cool guitar and keyboard interplay. My favorite song though is Ghost Key For it's sludgy, and crushing climax. That being said their isn't a weak song on the album, though a little different from anything they've done, every song is solid, and plays it's role nearly perfectly as the album progresses.

The only flaws I can think of are the lack of the sludge element that was prominent before, and really added a certain dynamic to the music, and the other being the keyboards use of semi cheesy leads. I cant help but think that some of the keyboards melodies are transcendent of some synth pop leads back in the eighties. Other than that, this is an incredibly good album, no masterpiece, but a very important part for your post metal discography, and IMO, a good direction for the bands maturity.


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Send comments to Dim (BETA) | Report this review (#220282) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 08, 2009

Review by Epignosis
3 stars The album begins strongly enough, with three exceptional tracks, but after that, things just start to sound the same, with noisy instrumentation and angry growling. The growling is tolerable, however, even though it is not something I particularly care for. When there is actually singing, it's not bad at all, but those points are few and far between unfortunately.

"Hall of the Dead" Post metal is wonderful in that the artists that comprise that genre create some of the most imaginative chord progressions and riffs, but it's awful in that those very same artists feel the need to mar their work with Cookie Monster imitations. Regardless, this is an excellent piece of work, if only for the guitar work itself.

"Ghost Key" Both the synthesizer and thick bass sound ghostly in their own way, and set an intriguing foundation for the subtle guitars. Again, however, the growling is a negative point.

"Hand of the Host" Haunting synthesizer and bass begin this track too. The song itself is loaded with excellent riffs and phenomenal, distant vocals. The guitars and the bass steal the show, creating layers of eerily beautiful music (but of course must inexplicably include that constipated retching in the end).

"Wavering Radiant" This is a brief, noise-based segue that consists mainly of atmospheric sounds, but no discernable structure.

"Stone to Wake a Serpent" This eight-and-a-half minute track boasts little variety, either musically or vocally, since it mainly consists of little more than growling and heavy instrumentation. Coherent vocals or really enjoyable music don't happen often here.

"20 Minutes / 40 Years" Low, thunderous bass sets the menacing atmosphere, as various sounds come in here and there. This (and the forthcoming track) are the two heaviest parts of this album, but unlike what is coming next, there are some exceptionally cool guitar parts.

"Threshold of Transformation" By this point, it's just more noisy guitars and growling vocals, which is really unfortunate. This piece is a noisy mess, and had this entire work been in this manner, I would have swiftly written it off as terrible. Even the quieter moments are fairly boring and don't anything to endear me to this album overall.


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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#228743) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Review by Prog-jester
3 stars Hey, I've got a motto for "Wavering Radiant": 'ISIS - your new TOOL'

Seriously, Aaron and Co were a bit TOOLish on their 2006' album, but this time it's somewhat ridiculous: somtimes you forget who's playing and then wonder what's wrong with Maynard, why does he growl? It seems that genre's pioneers found their product to be half-dead and gone seeking for inspiration somewhere else. On the other hand, if it's half-dead it's also half- ALIVE, and some bands still manage to float in muddy Post-Metal waters without being choked by the waves of creative crisis (or should I say crISIS?). Anyway, it's a fine record, but definitely weird - it's like seeing KING CRIMSON inspired by PINK FLOYD or otherwise. If you like TOOL and never seemed to get the fuzz around ISIS, try this record. On the other hand, if you never liked ISIS it's doubtful you'll love them after "Wavering Radiant" - TOOLish or not, it's not their best album anyway.


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Send comments to Prog-jester (BETA) | Report this review (#230312) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 07, 2009

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wavering Radiant is the fifth full-length studio album by US experimental/ Post metal act Isis. Iīve reviewed Isis studio albums from an end and itīs been quite an interesting journey. While Iīm not too much of a fan of the first two albums I acknowledge their importance in the genre. With their third album Panopticon (2004) they got me hooked though. A seminal album in the genre IMO. Their fourth album In The Absence Of Truth (2006) was another good album albeit not as excellent as Panopticon, so I didnīt exactly know what to expect from Wavering Radiant.

After listening to the album for a while Iīve come to the conclusion that this is probably my favorite album by Isis so far. Itīs crushingly heavy when it needs to be while maintaining a very melodic edge all the way through. The vocals are both aggressive and clean melodic ones. There are many atmospheric post rock sections in the music and above all this album wins because it has got a great atmosphere and feeling. Compared to Panopticon, this album is not quite as groundbreaking but for me personally thereīs more to enjoy about Wavering Radiant than there were about Panopticon. There are some added organ ( I think?) on the album which gives the album a nice organic sound. The melancholic almost shoegaze feeling in the music also adds lots of atmosphere to the sound.

The production on the album is warm and organic. I enjoy the bass heavy production even though my car speakers have a hard time handling the pressure.

Wavering Radiant is such a great album IMO. This album is one of the more interesting releases this year for me. A 4 star rating is well deserved. I like how Isis have developed their sound in the last couple of years and Iīm sure we can expect even more positive changes in the future.


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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#251478) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Review by Bonnek
4 stars Isis doesn't waver. After 5 albums of promising but somehow unsatisfactory albums, their 6th shows their will to grow and to succeed in writing the best post-metal album they can. Thumbs up for that.

The album starts excellently. The main riff of Hall of the Dead is both intriguing and dead catchy. Very Tool-alike, which isn't that surprising maybe if you enlist the Tool guitarist to riff along. The vocals alternate between hoarse shouting and basic clean vocals with long held tones. Not the most dynamic vocals around but here at least they work pretty well. They arranged the track with some refreshing organs. It's as good as post metal gets really.

Isis usually has the greatest trouble avoiding quality dips on their albums. Their style sticks too much to its genre formulas to remain engaging enough for entire albums. So my appreciation is usually diminished by a couple of weaker tracks. Ghost Key and Hand of the Host however still pass my scrutiny with ease; especially the tight musicianship is outstanding. Isis provides for a thick sound full of clearly audible chorused bass, beautifully textured guitars and great steady drumming. Sometimes they get a dreamy psychedelic mood going that reminds me of the late 80's shoegazers. Great atmosphere.

By the time Stone To Wake A Serpent makes its appearance, things start sounding too much of the same for me. There are still some shrewd instrumental sections but some of the riffs and vocals don't engage the entrancing vibe that music like this needs. The track overstays its welcome by at least 2 minutes. Also 20 Minutes/40 Years could have worked better if the vocalist had been gifted with a more appealing and confident voice, he has so much trouble staying in tune that he ends up sounding insecure, nasal and slightly whiney. The vocal line itself is quite fairly adequate though. The album ends with Threshold of Transformation, a tremendous wall of post-metal and one of Isis better songs here.

Throughout the years I have kept following Isis in the hope they would overcome their flaws and produce a truly excellent album. They come very close to that here and have certainly crafted their best album. Good enough to warrant a 4 star rating this time.


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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#272370) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review by Rune2000
4 stars Wavering Radiant is another one of those albums that I bought purely on a hunch...well, the early positive reviews might have played in a bit as well.

Do you know the feeling when many different people recommend you to check out a specific band and then you wait until they release a new album only to be completely disappointed? It is only then that you find out that only a specific portion of the band's discography is actually worth checking out. I don't know about you but I've definitely had quite a few of those moments!

Just like many times before, I was constantly reminded to hear Isis but never really bothered until they released a new album in 2009. Once again, I approached the whole matter with high hopes and expectations but this time I'm happy to announce that my approach finally payed off! I don't know the exact statistics regarding these type of events. For me personally, this was a one out of seven chance making it a 14% probability.

Let me begin by proclaiming that this is one highly satisfying album experience. Wavering Radiant may not be the most original recording out there since I'm sure that Isis were heavily influenced by Tool, but considering that it's not often Tool releases an album it's nice to have this Toolish-approach to hold us over while we wait for the real deal. Isis only borrows the best bits from Tool, meaning no filler tracks (I'm a bit on the fence about the title track), cryptic philosophic lyrics or, most importantly,...*drum roll*... constantly reminding us of our ignorance!

The music flows fluently from the start to the very end which is both great and a bit worrying considering the lack of any real stand-out moments. Ghost Key is the most memorable performance thanks to the melodic keyboard lead and the build-up section in the beginning of the track but it's not a stand-out moment per se. Hand Of The Host and Threshold Of Transformation are the album's two longer pieces and although both are pretty solid in their own way they both end up serving as mere atmospheric transitional pieces that glue the album together.

Wavering Radiant can be considered an excellent introduction to this band. Although it might be difficult to accept the fact that Isis sound so Toolish here. Still, expanding on another band's sound has probably never sounded better than this!

***** star songs: Ghost Key (8:31)

**** star songs: Hall Of The Dead (7:41) Hand Of The Host (10:45) Wavering Radiant (1:50) Stone To Wake A Serpent (8:33) 20 Minutes / 40 Years (7:07) Threshold Of Transformation (9:53)


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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#276352) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 04, 2010

Review by Any Colour You Like
5 stars Wavering Radiant is the latest album released by Post-Metal giants, Isis. Although the band themselves need no introduction to fans of this style, this album almost certainly needs an introduction to all.

Following the mildly disappointing 'In The Absence of Truth' and the epic 'Panopticon', Aaron Turner and Isis have crafted an unassuming masterpiece of modern progressive music. Wavering Radiant ticks all the boxes, simple as that. From the truly towering riffs on 'Hall of the Dead' to the keyboard laden 'Ghost Key', Isis' sound has never been as highly evolved, compositionally tight and well produced. What sets this album apart from others in the genre are the highly developed ambient bases that morph from sinister, yet unassuming jams into full-blown mid tempo riffs. Turner's vocals are as abrasive as ever, while his more mellow sections are more melodic and beautiful than those on previous releases.

The sludge that Isis made their names upon is still there, boiling away, but what makes Wavering Radiant different is that the band have found more than two gears. No longer is Isis restricted to soft and blisteringly loud, they now also come in flavours like mild noise and quite loud. the greater dynamic range really does make the compositions appear more dense and challenging, while a heightened sense of atmosphere acts as a soothing counterbalance. There is not much more to say, Wavering Radiant is a compositionally tight, well produced and emotional album that deserves to placed on the pedestal of metal greats.

As it stands Wavering Radiant is my top album of 2009, and easily my favourite Isis album thus far. Recommended to all fans of Post Metal, Sludge and Progressive Metal.


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Send comments to Any Colour You Like (BETA) | Report this review (#280035) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 30, 2010

Review by The Sleepwalker
3 stars Isis is a band that's constantly evolving. Starting out as a rough Sludge Metal band, they've moved towards a different sound. A more open sound perhaps. There still are the heavy riffs that are distinctive for Isis' sound, though they aren't as overwhelming as on an album like Oceanic. Instead, the music tends to focus more on creating a more atmospheric experience with a more progressive approach.

Still, Isis' sound is dominated by heavy guitars and pretty distinctive sounding drums. Also, the bass is a very important part of Isis' sound, contributing a lot to the heavy and thick sound that the band creates. Another important factor to the new Isis' sound are the very present keyboards, that produce some brooding atmosphere. Despite the album being very good overall, it tends to drag a bit. The music never quite reaches the heights of an album like for example Oceanic and while most of the songs contain some climaxes, those often don't sound all too dynamic and passionate as I suppose they could have been. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the music on the album is very enjoyable and songs like "Hall Of The Dead", "Ghost Key" and "Threshold Of Transformation" are just great.

Wavering Radiant doesn't quite reach the heights of some other Isis releases, but is a good album nevertheless. Therefore, three stars suit it very well I think. If you enjoy atmospheric yet heavy Post-Metal, you probably will enjoy this album.


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Send comments to The Sleepwalker (BETA) | Report this review (#280214) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 02, 2010

Review by Evolutionary Sleeper
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars With the release of this album in 2009, Isis takes the final step into maturity as a band. Wavering Radiant is a monster of an album that takes its sludge elements and tones them down a bit, but is no less crushing and beautiful for it. This is an album that blew me away from the first listen with its dark and haunting atmosphere. The thing I first noticed was the much improved production from their previous album, In the Absence of Truth. The mixing on this album is absolutely perfect and gives the overall tone of the music a much more organic feel, Joe Barresi did an amazing job with it. Another thing I noticed were the much improved vocals of Aaron Turner. He admittedly is not a great singer but I felt his vocals were really appropriate to the mood of the music and made it an overall more enjoyable experience. Great as the vocals were for me, Jeff Caxide's bass playing was definitely the highlight of the album. Jeff's versatile and skillful playing turns the bass into a living, breathing creature that weaves in and out in the background waiting to strike. These factors, along with the always great guitar playing and the much improved keys make it an album not to be missed by metal fans.

Hall of the Dead opens with a fantastic riff that carries through the first couple of minutes while the keys create a dark atmosphere in the background. Aaron Turner's vintage growls come in before a beautiful middle section juxtaposes the heaviness and Turner's growls change from harsh to melodic, a truly haunting tune.

Ghost Key however, takes "haunting" to a whole new level. The bass and keys on this track takes you to an journey through the dark side of your mind. Turner's vocals on this song are especially haunting, where he declares: "And there upon the ground, the remnants of our struggle", a truly spine-tingling experience.

Hand of the Host features a more crushing atmosphere than the previous two songs with the heavy breathing of the bass and monster riffs played by the guitars, one of the heaviest songs on the album.

Wavering Radiant is a short interlude between the first and second half of the album. It is pretty much an ambient track that has some sort moans from some ghastly being in the background. Not much of a track, but I don't feel it takes away from anything.

Stone to Wake a Serpent features their trademark loud, soft, loud, sound, which makes it a little less cohesive than the other tracks which pretty much avoid this, but the drumming on this track is really solid (some tabla even makes an appearance at one point) and the eerie keys in the background make for another great mood.

20Minutes/40 Years creeps up on you at the start and then explodes in your face. I particularly love the pace of this track, it stays pretty slow and super heavy throughout.

Threshold of Transformation was the one track it took me a while to warm up too, but I have come to love this track as well. Threshold is by far the heaviest track on the album with its booming bass and devastating guitars. The drumming here is the best out of any track on the album and the evocative singing beckons making one feel a sense on longing and nostalgia. It ends with the bass breathing heavy sighs and the guitars playing a quiet tune, calling out to you with their sorrowful cry.

This is definitely Isis's best and most mature work to date, and sadly, their last. This album is a wonderful addition to any prog collection. This masterpiece absolutely sucks the listener in doesn't let go, it's a completely immersive experience and one not to be missed and is best listened to cranked up to eleven.


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Send comments to Evolutionary Sleeper (BETA) | Report this review (#282705) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Wavering Radiant' - Isis (8/10)

I remember the day I heard Isis broke up. A fairly overcast day by all accounts, and I was left hating myself for never getting tickets to the last show the post-metal giants would ever play in Vancouver. One of the sadder music moments in 2010 to be sure, but they can't be said to have left the scene without one last great album. While not my favourite of the works Aaron Turner and company have crafted over the course of their career together, 'Wavering Radiant' concludes the Isis saga with a dark and brooding piece of metal no less worthy a contribution to their catalogue than any other.

Musical comparisons to the band Tool are certainly no stretch of the imagination; it feels as if through their contact, Isis has assimilated part of that band's bass-heavy sound and rhythmic builds into their own formula. While I might not like Tool, these new elements do add a dark feeling to the music that really works. The tracks here are generally drawn out with sludgy riffs, psychedelic ambiance and Turner's distinctive baritone. The music is well- played, but moreso in the great choice of timbres as opposed to any flamboyant technical playing, of which there is none here. Instead, Isis opts for an ironically mellow approach to their metal; while there may be growls and heavy riffs here, the sound never feels out of control. This high sense of calibration and intention throughout the songwriting makes the heavier moments feel a bit boring. Isis' strength here however lies in the more atmospheric segments of the music, which are done absolutely masterfully here.

The lighter, more post-rock oriented moments of 'Wavering Radiant' turn out incredibly; mixed generously with psychedelic effects and experimentation with noise effects. On top of this, Aaron Turner's clean vocals work perfectly for this style of music, equally as brooding and as downtuned as the guitars themselves. The sludgier sections of the album are a bit more hit-or-miss, especially towards the second half of the record. While the first three tracks of A-class material, the interlude title track onwards can be a bit more of a bumpy ride, resulting in a closing track ('Threshold of Transformation') that feels like it simply peters out, rather than delivering a real climax to the music.

A great album overall, although it does feel as if Isis has left us with a would-be masterpiece; one that could have easily become a classic with a few improvements and extra considerations put into the sound.

Rest in peace, Isis.


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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#413950) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review by JJLehto
5 stars Isis may be the very definition of a progressive rock band.

Starting with their first EP, Isis has maintained their core sound, (sludge) but on each subsequent EP and album have refined the sound, tuning this and changing that. Not a progressive band that jumped all over the place with wild leaps and experimenting, but truly progressing, slowly and surely up the mountain until finally reaching the summit, with this album, their magnum opus.

Wavering Radiant showcases their classic sound, (moreso than their last album) but this is not a throwback. Instead it features more of a soundscape feel than wall of sound. The extensive use of keyboard on this album adds a perfect touch. It plays a filler role, and is used with honest perfection.

Balance is the key to this album, balance in each individual song, the overall album and flow. Wavering Radiant's overall journey takes you up a hill, then over the top and down into a valley, up another hill over the top and ends gently rolling to a place like where we started.

The aggressive and heavy/mellow and ambient musical dynamic is as present as ever, though both sections have more nuance than ever and are soundscape influenced. The chilling sometimes space rock keyboard backdrops both, and Turners vocals are split evenly between his harsh, tortured gasps and melodic clean singing.

Notice I didn't mention any songs, which was the case with most of my Isis reviews. That's because Isis has always been greater than the sum of its parts. Each song by itself is a part of the grand clock, and this album is perhaps the best example. Wavering Radiant may actually have the most diverse song experience on any Isis album, but also displays the best overall experience. Taking the album as a whole, single experience is far more rewarding than every song on its own.

While "In the Absence of Truth" grew on me to become my favorite personally, "Wavering Radiant" is the best actual album Isis put out, their crowning achievement. Not a single bad moment on the whole album, filled with emotion and deep planning, this is cerebral metal and an absolute masterpiece.

Five Stars

Isis may also have felt they reached the pinnacle with this album, as they decided to retire after the subsequent tour, choosing to go out on top and not fading painfully into an overdue retirement. In the typical, extremely well thought out fashion, Isis played their final show where they played their first one, and ended it with the song "The Beginning of the End" appropriate on many levels.

Just to make sure, without any doubt, Isis was bowing out Turner took a stuffed bear that had been on stage with them since their very early years, threw it into the crowd, and walked off stage.


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Send comments to JJLehto (BETA) | Report this review (#634845) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2012

Latest members reviews

4 stars For a long time ive always thought this band to be very overated, as the genre of Post Metal, wasnt really my strong point, bands like Cult of Luna i found hard to get into, that is of course until i heard WAVERING RADIANT, the final release from this band. Where to start, i personaly think this ... (read more)

Report this review (#427616) | Posted by FarBeyondProg | Monday, April 04, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars WAVERING RADIANT--the pinnacle of Isis' achievement and along with Panopticon, an essential piece of post-metal. Though I feel that the first few tracks are readily accessible and that the album as a whole is a complete masterpiece, this is an album that does require some extended listening to d ... (read more)

Report this review (#254401) | Posted by Fio | Saturday, December 05, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars WAVERING RADIANT is the first Isis album I've heard that I actually enjoyed listening to. It is WAY more vocal and drum-based than previous outings and it is extremely brutal and heavy-hitting rather than spacey or meandering. A lot of the songs musically remind of Tool, but the vocals are a whole ... (read more)

Report this review (#216256) | Posted by volta3 | Saturday, May 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Perhaps Isis' best album, Wavering Radiant finds them more tuneful than ever before, more accessible than ever before, and they benefit from it a great deal. Isis have never sounded as poppy as they do on Ghost Key, for instance, although the brutality of their previous albums is still very much in ... (read more)

Report this review (#209996) | Posted by La fraisne | Friday, April 03, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Isis is a band I've always had trouble getting into, but when I started listening to this album I recalled my excitement for the first time listening to Tool's 10,000 Days. I won't go to track by track analysis, but I have to say that I've been addicted to Ghost Key. The unusual synthesizer openi ... (read more)

Report this review (#208708) | Posted by liquiddreamx | Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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