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Isis - Celestial CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.42 | 97 ratings

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4 stars I have come to the conclusion that Isis is one of my favorite Post Metal bands. I am usually not a fan of the extreme metal sound, and one of the reasons is the screaming or growling vocals. Because of this, I don't know why I love Isis so much, but my suspicion lies in the fact that their music is so heavy and solid, yet progressive and influential at the same time. They were never afraid to explore other areas and stretch the boundaries of the sound.

When Isis formed in Boston in 1997, the members had mostly been involved with other bands, yet were unhappy with the sound they were getting from those bands. There first 2 recordings were EPs and they didn't released their first full length album until 2000, and that album was a bone crushing, head smashing sludge metal and post metal extravaganza. Even though the band didn't really seriously start exploring how other genres could be incorporated into their music until their next full length album, there is still a lot of new territory they explored in 'Celestial'.

Through this album, there are 4 short tracks interspersed through the longer tracks that act as electronic interludes that break up the extreme sound this first album has. For the most part, that is the reprieve you get as each harsh track plays through. Screaming vocals are not my bag usually, though there are a few of the best extreme bands that I like anyway because the quality of their music more than makes up for it. But, I really can't see how any other vocal would fit with this music. It is loud and mostly unrelenting. Plus there is the fact that the music, even at this early stage, pushes the boundaries. A great example is in the first full length track 'Celestial (The Tower)' The first 6 minutes is 100% sludge rock with lots of hard hitting noise and the last 4 minutes change gear and present a post-rock style section where intensity builds off of a drop of volume, something you wouldn't expect in a typical sudge-fest. Then there is the completely instrumental track 'Deconstructing Towers' that uses feedback as part of the main feature of the track as it screams out at short intervals and then gets used later in an improvised way. As the track cools down, strummed acoustic chords usher out the squeals. There is also the pensive, yet buzzsaw style of 'C.F.T. (New Circuitry and Continued Evolution)' that tends to bore its way into your psyche and utilizes subdued vocals and electronic effects to prove that these guys were out to be something new and different.

The 'melt your mind' mentality of this music is based around a concept for this album, the building up of towers, the abandonment, the decay and finally the destruction of them. There is a mother-figure in the concept in the guise of the main control tower. It all deals with the way technology takes away our privacy. This is quite a current issue even though this album was released in 2000. We this as being even more of a problem in these days then it was back in those days.

This album is not as excellent as later albums would be, but it is still one that is enjoyable in it's own way, mostly because it has a much rawer feel, yet explores the repetition and development of themes in music much in the same way Swans did in their early days, but Isis takes it much further and that is what makes their music more appealing. The repetition is there, but development is going on as the track continues, and sometimes you end off a track in a completely different manner as what you started. This music is not for everyone, I understand that, but you can't deny that it expands borders in the metal categories. If you love your music loud, daring, epic and somewhat experimental, then this is for you, however, the later albums are even better.

TCat | 4/5 |


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