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Experimental/Post Metal • United States

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Isis picture
Isis biography
Formed in Boston, Massachusetts, USA in 1997 - Disbanded in 2010

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

ISIS Videos (YouTube and more)

Showing only random 3 | Show all ISIS videos (5) | Search and add more videos to ISIS

Buy ISIS Music

IPEC0 2015
$3.99 (used)
IPEC0 2015
$8.72 (used)
The Red Sea (Reissue)The Red Sea (Reissue)
Hydra Head Records 2018
$25.13 (used)
Wavering RadiantWavering Radiant
Robotic Empire 2017
$30.00 (used)
Ipecac Recordings 2015
$10.22 (used)
Mosquito ControlMosquito Control
Hydrahead Records 2018
$40.42 (used)
Live VIILive VII
Ipecac Recordings 2017
$11.70 (used)
In Absence Of TruthIn Absence Of Truth
Ipecac Recordings 2015
$3.60 (used)
Clearing The EyeClearing The Eye
Multiple Formats
Ipecac Recordings 2015
$2.38 (used)
Ipecac Recordings 2015
$22.18 (used)
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ISIS discography

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

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

3.31 | 81 ratings
4.07 | 192 ratings
4.12 | 248 ratings
3.75 | 170 ratings
In The Absence Of Truth
4.02 | 197 ratings
Wavering Radiant

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

3.18 | 10 ratings
Live I
3.25 | 9 ratings
Live 2 - 03.19.03
3.88 | 8 ratings
Live 3
4.33 | 6 ratings
Live 4
4.33 | 6 ratings
Live 5
4.50 | 4 ratings
Live VI
4.33 | 3 ratings
Live VII

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

4.19 | 12 ratings
Clearing the Eye

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

4.50 | 4 ratings
Oceanic Remixes and Reinterpretations
5.00 | 1 ratings

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

2.91 | 16 ratings
Mosquito Control
3.00 | 18 ratings
The Red Sea
3.60 | 5 ratings
4.50 | 2 ratings
Isis / Pig Destroyer
3.44 | 18 ratings
2.98 | 19 ratings
In the Fishtank vol. 14 (with Aereogramme)
4.00 | 2 ratings
Holy Tears
5.00 | 2 ratings
Not in Rivers, but in Drops
4.00 | 1 ratings
Melvins / Isis

ISIS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Wavering Radiant by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.02 | 197 ratings

Wavering Radiant
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Isis to me is one of those strange anomalies. I typically don't like the growly vocals that are usually present in sludge metal or post metal bands. I can tolerate them when they are melodic in their growling, as with 'Baroness' or 'Agalloch', but Isis' lead singer's dirty vocals are not melodic at all. Yes he does sing clean vocals, but not very often. The thing with Isis is their music is excellent and their songs so well composed and complex, so I hardly even notice them unless I really think about it. Even though many consider this their most accessible album, the growling is still very dominant. The one difference is, the focus is more on melodic tracks, so I guess that makes it more accessible.

Anyway, I cannot explain why I love this band so much. It has to be because they are better than the norm. The sad thing is, it was a year after the release of this album that the band would break up. This would be their last full album. But, at least they went out heading in the right direction.

A lot of people tend to compare this album to Tool, but, except for the track 'Threshold of Transformation', I don't get that comparison. It might be in the complex structure of the songs, but Tool doesn't own the market on that writing style, because other bands like 'Opeth' and 'Agalloch' do the same thing, and quite truthfully, Gabriel's Genesis (and some of the early Collins' Genesis) mastered the use of complexity in the lyrical sections of their music, refusing to follow the verse/chorus structure used in so much rock and pop music. So that's really nothing new. Tool doesn't have growly vocals of course, but that is the most minor of the non-comparisons. Isis in this album utilize more keyboards than Tool, and tend to experiment more in the use of keyboards in a metal band along with more unique atmospherics. Isis also utilizes the heavy post metal structures that Tool doesn't. Don't get me wrong, I love Tool as much as any other Tool fan, but I just think the comparison is unfounded. The music really compares more to Agalloch than Tool.

This album does use the haunting clean haunting vocals much better than previously. I would be more of a fan if Aaron used less of the growls, even on this album. The musicianship and composition of the songs is top notch though, and that pretty much cancels out the annoying vocals, almost. The songs are still dark and heavy though, with more atmospherics than before, they are also still very complex song structures. Even with the loudness, there are plenty of places that allow the music to breath. And then there is the beautiful interludes that continue through 'Ghost Key' that contrast to the loud sections in the same song that I find intriguing and wonderful. Both 'Hand of the Host' and 'Hall of the Dead' bookend 'Ghost Key' and the placement is perfect as they have plenty of loud, heavy passages and complexities that even bring out the haunting melodies of 'Ghost Key' even more.

'Stone to Wake a Serpent' has more of a psychedelic feel to it with its interesting guitar sounds in the quieter passages. The addition of the organ playing alongside the guitar riff towards the middle is a nice touch giving the song that retro 'Uriah Heep' vibe. With its share of loud and quiet alternating sections, it is overall a more pensive tune. The screeching of the guitar is also an interesting contrast. Also, as I mentioned earlier, 'Threshold of Transformation' has that Tool sound to it with the thumping, complex bass line. Isis uses an organ to support that bass making it seem more unique. Except for the Japanese release, this is the last track on the album, and possibly, ending with a 'Tool-like' track, maybe that is why the comparison is made, but one track doesn't make an album, and the track is still good anyway, because in the last half, it veers away from that sound to a heavier and brighter guitar solo. If you are lucky enough to have the Japanese version, you will be treated to one more track 'Way Through Woven Branches', which is another great track with a great beginning guitar riff and like the other songs, is a great study in extremes.

The band wanted to make the album one that had more balance to it, and I think they succeeded in this. The album seems to be more progressive than ever, with a lot more dynamics and melodic touches. Each track has plenty of room to develop because, with the exception of one short track that serves as a bridge, tracks stay in the range of 6 to 11 minutes each. It is a shame that this would be their last album as I feel they were heading for something even bigger, but they had a good run and provided us with some of the best Post Metal out there. I could almost give this a 5 star rating, but the dirty vocals keep it from being perfect. But I must say, it is close.

 In The Absence Of Truth by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.75 | 170 ratings

In The Absence Of Truth
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Following up classics like Oceanic and Panopticon would be a tricky enough prospect in itself, and whilst I respect Isis for choosing to evolve their sound at this point the fact remains that In the Absence of Truth is a bit of a transitional album which simply doesn't grip me to the extent that those albums do. The band seem to have been experimenting with a somewhat more atmospheric and less direct take on their sound, but on balance I think they succeeded much better at this sort of thing on the following Wavering Radiant; here, it's still a work in progress and it doesn't quite come together.
 Wavering Radiant by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.02 | 197 ratings

Wavering Radiant
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Having knocked it out of the park with Oceanic and Panopticon, Isis can afford to experiment with their style a bit. Wavering Radiant doesn't radically overturn the Isis sound, but it does offer up more space here and there for the band to work through the quieter side of their sound, to the point where at stages this sounds like a gentle Explosions In the Sky release here and there. As far as their distinctive blend of post-rock and sludge metal goes, it's not going to sell you on it if you didn't dig their top-tier releases, but if you've already found that you like this particular sonic territory it's a reasonable expansion of it.
 Live I by ISIS album cover Live, 2003
3.18 | 10 ratings

Live I
Isis Experimental/Post Metal

Review by thwok

3 stars As my fellow reviewer Sularetal has suggested, ISIS' Live I will mostly appeal to post rock lovers and established fans of the band. I generally adore ISIS' live albums, unlike most live albums. I would give it 3 1/2 stars - 4 for genre or band fans and 3 otherwise - but that's not an option. The sound quality is just fair, but that's not surprising considering Live I was self-released.

Aaron Harris has obviously been a fantastic drummer since the band's beginnings. There is almost no singing, but vocal quality was never a priority for ISIS. I won't single out individual songs for merit, even though ISIS was definitely not your run of the mill post rock band from the start. Their music became increasingly more varied and interesting over time. I would call ISIS' first live release more of an EP than an album. It's only four songs lasting a total of 40 minutes. However, that's just semantics. Over all, this is a very listenable 40 minutes.

 In the Fishtank vol. 14 (with Aereogramme) by ISIS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2006
2.98 | 19 ratings

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

 Oceanic by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.07 | 192 ratings

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.

 In The Absence Of Truth by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.75 | 170 ratings

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 --

 Panopticon by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.12 | 248 ratings

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.
 Oceanic by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.07 | 192 ratings

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.
 Wavering Radiant by ISIS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.02 | 197 ratings

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.

Thanks to useful_idiot for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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