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Isis - Oceanic CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.08 | 203 ratings

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The Pessimist
Prog Reviewer
5 stars

Ah, now there is nothing like a bit of old school Isis. As it stands they have two periods: the heavy, early hardcore-ish period (first EPs, Celestial and Oceanic) and their later mellow, melodic and atmospheric phase (ITAOT and Wavering Radiant), split down the middle by a mixture of the two Panopticon. Now for those that know me, it won't be hard to guess which era I prefer, but for those who don't, this particular album is my favourite from the post-metal fathers. Not what I consider to be their best (read my review for Panopticon if you want to know that), as it is not as concise and mature as their later stuff, but this album is definitely closest to my heart and the most creative of the bunch. In here we have, in my honest opinion, the most eclectic mix of music the band has ever given out. From the funky riff to open The Beginning and the End, to the sludgy wall of sound in False Light, to the Baroque type chord sequence in Carry, to the warm and atmospheric sound of Weight and to the brute force of the guitars in From Sinking. It is all on this record, and although a lot of the songwriting and production could use a bit of work, it is all perfect in its own right.

Now I will talk about a few of the songs.

The album opens with The Beginning and the End, which is excellent, cited as the band's best song by some. To break it down, it goes from the funky intro riff, through some mellow sections, melodic guitar lines, hardcore screaming when appropriate, build ups to die for and once more, good old sludgey verses. This wraps up my feelings for Isis in 8 minutes. Definitely a highlight of the album, and the ending is just superb. So mellow, yet so heavy at the same time, it is what Isis pull off best and what sets them apart from other Post Metal.

Carry is possibly my very favourite song by Isis ever. Only short in comparison, yet 7 minutes is all the song needs to take you on a journey without sounding too rushed. And that's what this song is: a journey. The lyrics portray the sentiments of someone drowning, which is a very unnerving and poignant theme in itself. Combined with the music, it is something spectacular. It starts with a very thin line of guitars and synths, which is later augmented by a simple drum line and a delayed guitar melody. Very nice, not too much on the ears, yet if you listen closely, there is about 3 guitars, a bass, drums and a good few layered synths all at once. One big thumbs up for production. The intro, as incredibly emotional and deep as it is, cannot compare to when the chord sequence that changed my life kicks in at about the fourth minute. This, on top of the vocals is possibly the best Isis moment of all time, and makes the song. Simple, yet so effective, like all post metal. We are then treated to some more funky metal chords and low tuned brutality, and well, that pretty much sums up the perfection. The female vocals in the background of the middle section are also a really great addition. Perfect.

Weight is another special song. Full of atmosphere, it is inherently one massive 11 minute long build up, and boy what a build up it is. It merges certain melody lines together so smoothly and intricately that it all sounds like one riff repeated over and over again. But because it changes a lot with instrumentation, you never get bored of this "one riff". The most striking thing is the drum build up. It is just perfect, the production just makes it a dream to listen to and is probably the most relaxing thing on the album. Then as all the instruments creep in, and you barely notice this by the way, we are gently introduced to a wall of sound that is so common in the genre. Really, you just have to listen. It is unbelievable and is probably the best instrumental to ever come out of the band's discography. Yes, even better than Altered Course. Magical.

One final thing to note about the album is the vocals. It is all hardcore screaming, and to those not used to extreme vocals may find it a little cold and empty. If this is the case, then I wouldn't recommend you listen to the album further. However, if you like really dark, atmospheric, heavy music and enjoy extreme vocals, then please goi for this. It is a masterpiece of its genre, and one of the cornerstones of Isis's career. 5 stars.

The Pessimist | 5/5 |


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