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ISIS

Experimental/Post Metal • United States


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Isis biography
Originally formed by Hydrahead Records owner Aaron TURNER, ISIS began life as a fairly straightforward sludge/stoner metal band. Their first two EPs "The Red Sea" and "Mosquito Control" presented a brutal and loud form of heavy metal which quickly gained them a following, making their debut album "Celestial" a hit in metal circles. The first signs of what they would eventually become emerged on the "SGNL>05" EP, where their intense guitar grooves began to additionally incorporate mellow, spacey segments.

2002's "Oceanic" would prove to be their breakthrough album, perfecting the band's combination of post-rock buildups and explosive, slow metal. Their evolution came into full circle with 2003's "Panopticon", which relied more on atmosphere and gradual progressions than musicianship and technicality. "In The Absence Of Truth" and "Wavering Radiant" perfected the formula that ISIS have been striving for and that's why the band decided to call it a day in early 2010.

ISIS is an extremely worthwhile treat for fans of the more out-there regions of metal, or even of heavier post-rock bands.

See also:
- Red Sparowes



Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Approved by the prog-metal experts team.



Discography:
Mosquito Control, EP (1998)
The Red Sea, EP (1998)
Celestial, studio album (2000)
SGNL>05, studio album (2001)
Oceanic, studio album (2002)
Live 1, live album (2004)
Panopticon, studio album (2004)
Live 2, live album (2005)
Live 3, live album (2005)

Isis official website

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Buy ISIS Music


Oceanic [Reissue]Oceanic [Reissue]
IPEC0 2014
Audio CD$7.67
$7.48 (used)
Live I 09.23.03Live I 09.23.03
Isis 2011
Audio CD$11.99
CelestialCelestial
IPEC0 2013
Audio CD$10.29
$6.80 (used)
PanopticonPanopticon
Ipecac Recordings 2014
Audio CD$10.42
$5.94 (used)
Live III 12.17.04Live III 12.17.04
Isis 2011
Audio CD$11.99
In The Absence Of TruthIn The Absence Of Truth
Ipecac Recordings 2006
Audio CD$5.74
$4.48 (used)
Temporal [2 CD/DVD Combo]Temporal [2 CD/DVD Combo]
Ipecac Recordings 2012
Audio CD$14.37
$11.99 (used)
Mosquito ControlMosquito Control
EP
Escape Artist 2001
Audio CD$10.00
$7.83 (used)
Live V 07.23.06Live V 07.23.06
Isis 2011
Audio CD$11.99
$29.99 (used)
Live IV (2001-2005)Live IV (2001-2005)
Isis 2011
Audio CD$11.99
$11.98 (used)
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ISIS shows & tickets


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ISIS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ISIS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.31 | 67 ratings
Celestial
2000
4.08 | 164 ratings
Oceanic
2002
4.13 | 203 ratings
Panopticon
2004
3.83 | 152 ratings
In The Absence Of Truth
2006
4.08 | 172 ratings
Wavering Radiant
2009

ISIS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.06 | 7 ratings
Live I
2003
3.12 | 7 ratings
Live II
2004
3.50 | 6 ratings
Live 3
2005
4.00 | 4 ratings
Live 4
2006
4.00 | 4 ratings
Live 5
2009
4.00 | 2 ratings
Live VI
2012

ISIS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.16 | 10 ratings
Clearing the Eye
2006

ISIS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 4 ratings
Oceanic Remixes and Reinterpretations
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Temporal
2012

ISIS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.79 | 11 ratings
Mosquito Control
1998
2.83 | 14 ratings
The Red Sea
1999
4.33 | 3 ratings
Sawblade
1999
5.00 | 1 ratings
Isis / Pig Destroyer
2000
3.44 | 16 ratings
SGNL>05
2001
2.94 | 15 ratings
In the Fishtank vol. 14 (with Aereogramme)
2006
4.00 | 2 ratings
Holy Tears
2008
5.00 | 2 ratings
Not in Rivers, but in Drops
2008
4.00 | 1 ratings
Melvins / Isis
2010

ISIS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In the Fishtank vol. 14 (with Aereogramme) by ISIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2006
2.94 | 15 ratings

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In the Fishtank vol. 14 (with Aereogramme)
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is an EP in the In the Fishtank series that highlights two similar bands together performing new tracks together to see what comes out of each pairing. This one features Isis and Aereogramme, Isis being a post-rock/metal band and Aereogramme leaning more towards the alternative side of post- rock with more electronics. What you get are 3 pretty decent tracks, 2 long ones and a short one.

"Low Tide" is the best track to come from this union. It is a mid-tempo track somewhat similar to the cleaner songs on Isis' "In the Absence of Truth" album, but it features the lead vocals of Craig from Aereogramme, which I believe are much better than Aaron's vocals, who often sings either growly vocals or more subdued "under the mix" vocals. The pairing works well in this track, which has a long, atmospheric opening before the vocals start in. After the vocal section, the track continues picking up a more electronic sound, but continues to be an excellent mix of styles. The 2nd track is "Deliel" which is a short and more straightforward metal sounding track with Aaron's gritty vocals, sounding more like an Isis track, with enough going on in the background to keep it interesting, but not as interesting as most of their music on their usual albums. The 3rd track is more of a droning style with a free floating feel, featuring Crag's vocals again. This one is very experimental sounding with a nice spacey atmosphere, and once again uses the pairing to it's greatest benefit.

All in all, it's not a bad little EP, but not one that you would use to introduce yourself to either band. The music could have been released under a different name than either one of the band's names and would have been a respectful sound for a new band, but this series of experiments of pairing bands together is a very interesting experiments. The curious listener can pick up quite a number of these EPs to hear the interesting combinations of bands, which also includes other progressive bands like Tortoise (pairing with The Ex) and Motorpsycho (pairing with Jaga Jazzist Horns). Quite an interesting collection. This particular EP is interesting enough, especially with the excellent starter track, but the other two are only just good. 3 stars for this EP

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 Oceanic by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.08 | 164 ratings

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Oceanic
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

3 stars These guys were listening to a lot of Mogwai before they made this, their second album. Compared to the first album there is a strong post-rock influence here, which becomes even more important on the following albums (some of the members will later form their own post-rock group Red Sparowes). Oceanic by this Boston group is considered one of the earliest examples of what would be called 'post metal'. There is no verse/chorus structure, no guitar solos, no virtuosity. Atmospheric sludge metal with hardcore yelling type vocals. There is also female vocals that aren't really singing anything. There is some electronics and organ which works well with the guitars. A water theme to the album. A concept album about a guy who commits suicide after he finds out his love is cheating on him with her brother. Lovely.

"The Beginning And The End" begins the album as one of the more traditional metal sounding songs. Centred on changing riffs and the rough, yelled vocals. Already after a minute things mellow out and go into a light groove. Later gets faster and more aggressive sounding. Keeps the pace but gets less heavy. "The Other" basically starts out in mid-paced Mogwai territory, the music is fairly easy-going and not in a hurry to go anywhere. Then we get some metallic guitar (which Mogwai themselves sometimes have) and yelling vocals before it goes back. A lot more traditional metal sounding later on. Goes through some repeated chords before doing some riffs.

"False Light" starts out very sludge metal sounding. Just before halfway goes into mellow Mogwai territory (as opposed to loud and distorted Mogwai territory). "Carry" is one of the highlights. Beginning with atmospheric guitars and electronics, this is the most melodic part of the album yet. A very simple drum part lays the groundwork for the Mogwai-ish guitar playing. A Mogwai-like crescendo is developed as the yelled vocals make an appearance. Then female vocals in the distance. Gets more metallic and riff oriented towards the end. "Maritime" is perhaps the most 'post-rock' sounding track. A simple, repeated drumbeat overlaid with clean picked guitars and some lovely organ for the majority of the song. A vaguely Middle-Eastern guitar motif appears towards the end.

"Weight" is another highlight. It starts off very mellow and atmospheric. Some guitars and drums can be heard in the distance. The tom-tom heavy drumming gets more upfront in the mix before playing a beat. Simple repeated guitar picking and female vocals join in. The guitar picking becomes strumming as the music builds a crescendo. The female vocals repeat gibberish at the end. It finishes with some sampled and modified orchestra sounds. "From Sinking" opens almost sounding like Tool with growls. Later goes into Mogwai territory before returning to a Tool vibe. Halfway the drumming stops and there is some of the finest guitar sounds on the album. When the drums return the music is again more Mogwai sounding. Except for the vocals, even the loud distorted part at the end sounds more Mogwai than metal.

"Hym" begins with some memorable riffage before going 'post metal' on us. Then some sludge metal/stoner rock type riffs. Goes back to a more mellow vibe before building up a crescendo. The music on Oceanic is generally very good but the vocals leave a lot to be desired; I wish they just had the female vocalist. The album is over an hour and tends to sound too samey after awhile. They would refine their sound on the next few albums. Overall a decent effort and influential. I would give this a 3.5 but can't quite give it 4 stars, so 3 stars it is.

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 In The Absence Of Truth by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.83 | 152 ratings

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In The Absence Of Truth
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by bartosso

4 stars I'm in sackcloth and ashes

Okay, I was wrong. I was terribly wrong. This is not just a passable album. With their penultimate release Isis turned me off initially (in 2006) but I was young and stupid then. IN THE ABSENCE OF TRUTH is indeed a journey one of its kind, a journey setted in a peculiar dream in which one experiences both things already seen but those unknown and singular as well. Landscape is blurry and distorted, seen through hundreds of rainy lenses. And there is bleakness.

Every album from the band has different sound that suits its concept and highlights its specific mood. IN THE ABSENCE OF TRUTH is obviously not an exception. As this is their most "post" and least "metal" record, the sound is more airy and organic than ever before. Its oneiric, gloomy atmosphere is highlighted with organic guitar distortion and naturally sounding drums. Since we're on the subject, the drumming is based mainly on tribal, loopy tom-tom patterns. It may seem a bit repetitive to some, but it suits the mood pretty well.

I took a dislike to this album due to strong Tool influence I immediately spotted in it. I loved Tool at the time and Isis seemed to insolently imitate them. I was obviously an ignoramus as this is not the whole truth about IN THE ABSENCE OF TRUTH. While being strongly influenced by Tool's evolutionary approach to composition and unique mood of LATERALUS, Isis adds a huge amount of their own style to the music. Sludgy heaviness and genuine depressive mood known from such albums as PANOPTICON and OCEANIC, pervades the record thoroughly. With the opening track the listener's mind is immediately flooded with feelings of anxiety and imminent menace. From now on the music takes him to terrains of sadness and shows him surreal, gloomy visions of life and death. It's an intriguing construct made of sludgy build-ups, atmospheric post-rock passages and emotional post-metal climaxes.

Plenty of post-rock albums oozed through my headphones within the space of the last 3 years and 99% of them bored me half to death. I'm glad I survived long enough to finally appreciate Isis. Although the album is a bit uneven, it has some real post-metal masterpieces on board. And most of all, unlike legions of uninspired post-rock clones, this REALLY is emotional and deep stuff. Let it sink in your mind. It's worth it.

TRACKS BY RATINGS: 10/10[masterpiece!!!]: Not in Rivers, but in Drops; Dulcinea || 9/10[fantastic!]: Holy Tears || 8/10[great]: Wrists of Kings; 1,000 Shards; Garden of Light || 7/10[very good]: Over Root and Thorn || 5/10[not bad]: Firdous E Bareen || OVERALL = 81/100

-- Originally posted on METALMUSICARCHIVES.com --

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 Panopticon by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.13 | 203 ratings

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Panopticon
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Panopticon by Isis is the brilliant companion piece to Oceanic and continues the adept fusion of post-rock and metal set forth on that album. With strong competition in 2004 from Cult of Luna's excellent Salvation, Isis manage to remain ahead of the game with their cohesive compositions and their absolute command of mood and atmosphere. If bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor, Sigor Ros and Mogwai are the conceptual leaders of the post-rock movement, Isis surely occupy a similar position when it comes to the post-metal subgenre, and the shimmering, majestic walls of guitar in Panopticon only underline this point. Highly recommended.

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 Oceanic by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.08 | 164 ratings

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Oceanic
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars It took me a while to wrap my head around Isis' brilliant Oceanic, but it helped that I've listened to plenty of post-rock and could readily see how the band were applying the song structures and almighty crescendos of that genre (as expertly applied by the likes of Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor) to metal. Oceanic is a fantastic musical trip, which delivers waves of tidal fury between spells of deceptive calm - much like the ocean the album is inspired by. Unlike, say, Maudlin of the Well's compositions on Bath/Leaving Your Body Map, the quieter more post-rocky sections and the louder metal sections sit together much more naturally in the context of the compositions, creating a fantastic and cohesive musical experience.

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 Wavering Radiant by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.08 | 172 ratings

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Wavering Radiant
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by JJLehto
Prog Reviewer

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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 In The Absence Of Truth by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.83 | 152 ratings

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In The Absence Of Truth
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by JJLehto
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Isis has perfected the post metal sound so well, they now sound like everyone else!

Indeed, by this point post metal bands were starting to come out of the woodwork, and many previous sludgy doomy metal bands have since converted. In a sea of students cheating off each other, leave it to the professors to change it up.

In the Absence of Truth, continues the progression of Isis. Clean guitar sounds dominate this album, which tends to dive into heaviness a bit less than previously. There is often a "clean heaviness" which I can't really describe, but you'll hear it, and only the songs "Holy Tears" and "Garden of Light" make prominent use of the classic wall of sound.

So basically, this is a much cleaner and melodic album than anything Isis has done. This seems be a bit of a turn off for some Isis fans but this may be my favorite album by them. Any Isis fan should know deep listening reveals the true musicianship on this album. Often beautiful, always subtle and sophisticated, the soundscapes created by Isis are amazing.

Also of note, the drumming is a drastically different style featuring a very "tribal" style. It's awesome and provides an interesting base for this album. Adds some more power and intensity. There's also greater use of clean vocals, and true clean vocals not even the kind of strained clean singing of past. The balance is in fact probably shifted to the clean side.

While it may sound like a mellow and beautiful album, (which it is) what makes it metal? What makes it Isis? Well don't worry, it's all still there. Just less prominently. This actually gives the album an even stronger post metal feel, as the build ups are really powerful now!

The clean/heavy/clean/heavy format was getting a bit tiresome, and by using less heavy sections they feel so much more substantial now. This album is more post rock sounding than previous, since the songs are more steady and progressive, moving continuously towards the finale and not through peaks and valleys.

"Holy Tears" is a standout song, while "Garden of Light" is one of the most powerful endings to an album I've ever heard. The final few minutes sent shivers down my spine.

For metal fans, and even Isis fans, this album may be a bit of a challenge. It's not the Isis of previous two albums but more subdued and post rock influenced, but be patient and submerse yourself to realize the greatness of this album. The greater the challenge the greater the reward, and those perpetually fine tuning metal engineers assembled another brilliant work.

Five Stars

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 Panopticon by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.13 | 203 ratings

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Panopticon
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by JJLehto
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Isis created something special with Oceanic, the blend of intellectualism and metal.

Seen as blasphemous and boring, (if not downright stupid) to many metal heads, for myself it is a truly rewarding experience. More for sitting down and deeper listening than thrashing around, but it was undeniably heavy, sludgy and fairly slow. Black Sabbath for the 21st Century, but while eschewing most metal norms. That's my type of metal band!

Isis did not make much of a change on Panopticon, but took an incremental approach, (just like they've been doing from their early EP's until now). This is the same basic album as Oceanic, but is heavier, (yes) utilizes ambient passages a bit more, and features some more clean vocals. Also there is a tad more polish here, that was just not quite present on Oceanic. Turner and Isis truly are progressive, not jumping wildly or experimenting on this album, but fine tuning. Keep what was good and tweak a bit.

So yeah, this album has it all. The crushing walls of sonic noise, the atmospheric interludes (which can be amazingly beautiful), subtle and sophisticated song writing, emphasis on chord and overall song progression, and buried, rough vocals. There is a decent bit of clean singing as well. Yet again this music is about texture, atmosphere, subtlety, and progression. An experience more than a listen, as all the songs flow together like one.

While there is some more variation than "Oceanic" it is largely the same thing and while it doesn't get as samey, it could be a bit constant for some. There is no real standout song but that's because these aren't really songs in the traditional sense, it's designed to be an entire album experience not individual songs.

The album is named after the 18th Century idea of Jeremy Bentham. His idea was a prison, (the Panopticon) where a guard could see every prisoner, but not the other way around. Every prisoner can be observed, but each one will never know if they are. An efficient design and one that would hopefully lead to a constant sense of "Big Brother" and ideally, self regulation amongst the prisoners.

An idea that Turner has compared with the US Government.

Leaves me feeling more crushed than the music!

Panopticon is an excellent album. An absolute jewel of post-metal. Metal heads that a taste for the progressive or artsy side, or just enjoy chill music along with heavy metal, must give this a listen.

Four and a Half Stars

BUMP: FOUR STARS

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 Oceanic by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.08 | 164 ratings

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Oceanic
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by JJLehto
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of the most influential albums in underground metal.

Hailed by some as the definitive text of post metal as we know it now, this album has spawned countless imitators. Though the genre's roots lie with the music of Neurosis, the atmosphere of Tool, grew from the sludge of Melvins and shoegazing elements, (and was hinted at by Cult of Luna, Pelican and earlier works by Isis), this was the album that truly defined the genre of post metal. Melded all the aforementioned styles into one that is aggressive, atmospheric, hypnotic, bludgeoning and cerebral.

If you want to understand what post metal is, then listen to Oceanic. This album is about creating atmosphere rather than musical showmanship.

Oceanic is heavy, very. In fact it takes metal to a very pure form. The frills and speed are completely removed, and even riffing is absent as the guitar playing is built almost entirely on chords. Heavy, dense walls of chords. A sonic assault of guitar work.

To a new listener it may sound the same, but when one really listens to the music you will see there is subtle progression. It's this progression, requiring a bit of a trained ear and patience, that is the emphasis of the music. You will find no guitar solos on this album to help you out either!

However, all the heaviness is contrasted with light sections. In fact the interplay of light and dark, usually a few times within each song, is the staple of post metal, soon to be beaten to death.

This is another important aspect of post metal, its unorthodox song structure. There are no verse-chorus songs here. Genres such as thrash and death metal feature structures that change abruptly, extremely and are usually complex, (if not anarchic). Oceanic makes theirs brutally simple: heavy, light. Lengthy songs, moving at a moderate pace alternating between sonic barrages and mellow ambient interludes reminiscent of Tool, or Pink Floyd and can be surprisingly dense in their gentle way. Of course, there is a bit more than this. Overall, the songs tend to move, gradually progressing to their climax (whatever it may be) even if several hills and valleys have to be traversed.

Turners vocals are hoarse barks, placed throughout the album and buried a bit in the music. This combination makes it impossible to decipher, but functions as a wonderful aesthetic to the music. Also makes them much more tolerable than usual. Pepper on some simple, slightly off kilter drumming that seem to continue pummeling along regardless and you have one extremely intriguing album.

Apart from the occasional interlude, no song stands out on this album. In fact they all are quite samey. Of course each is unique, and attention is needed for this, but overall every song follows the same structure. A bit formulaic, even if the numbers change.

Very influential album, and a great one at that. If you are a fan of progressive metal, or want a challenge this album should be high on the list. As dense and heavy as the ocean, sometimes as gentle and soothing. Great album.

Four Stars

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 Panopticon by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.13 | 203 ratings

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Panopticon
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Electromagnetism

5 stars With their third studio album, ISIS continue to evolve. After releasing an outstanding album such as Oceanic many bands fall into the trap of copying themselves, not ISIS however who not only evolve, but manage to surpass a great work with a monumental album.

The album album opener So did We starts with heavy riff and growling vocals but then as quickly as it started, it mellows down into a calm, atmospheric but turbulent part and as the song progresses, so does the turbulence, as the layers of sounds add up and thicken the massive wall of sound that the song is. Then the song explodes into a beautiful climax, a really emotional instrumental passage. The song manages to capture the essence of the album, very atmospheric, sometimes gritty, sometimes beautiful, sometimes turbulent, sometimes calm. The atmosphere on the album is very heavy and dramatic and even in the mellow parts, there is an overwhelming pressure on the listener. The main theme in the music structure is that of progression, the listener is presented with a minimalistic riff and then listens to it progress patiently into something entierly different, and as it evolves, the layers of sound build upon each other before blossoming into climatic riffs.

The clash of styles is pretty interesting here, at times the hardcore/sludge roots of ISIS are apparent, while at other times it has a very metal sound to it and a very strong post rock feel. On Panopticon, ISIS manage to combine the strong elements of each of those genres; the emotional intensity of hardcore, the crushing riffs of metal and the beautiful and clear riffs of post rock without being confusing or cheesy, it all flows so naturally that the cross of genres becomes one of it's greatest strengths, it adds up to the musical depth of the album. The album is mostly instrumental, but has moments of both growling, and grunge-style vocals.

This album is without a doubt one of the very best album that I've heard, and it gets better every time I listen to it, and in my opinion stands among the very best progressive metal albums of all time.

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