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Isis - Celestial CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.42 | 97 ratings

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Trickster F.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The epitome of heaviness.

When asked about their opinion of what the heaviest music sounds like, most people will describe a fast, brutal group with blast beats and shrieking vocals that tries to be as loud and noisy as possible. Isis and their album titled Celestial show us a different way to be heavy - this way is not totally new actually, as it has been being developed for decades by various innovative Doom, Stoner and Sludge Metal groups, some of them, especially Neurosis and The Melvins must have influenced the Isis's sound somehow.

I will try to describe the group's sound as accurately as I can, although it is, of course, a good idea to hear it on your own to make the right conclusions. Celestial, in particular, can be described as something immensely huge, massive, menacing that crushes and destroys everything on its way to... Wherever it goes, it definitely does have a direction though! The way the vocals are used can be compared to Neurosis as well: the vocals are monotonous and do not, in any way, create the centre of the music. When they are absent you don't miss them and when they appear the music doesn't take much of a turn. You could say that the vocals are just another tool - an instrument in the arsenal of Isis. They are always used fittingly with the music and confirm its destructive message successfully. The album consists of many lengthy compositions, as well as short tracks that are not musical but have different sounds and effects to help get the message across. The whole album is supposed to be concept based around the destruction of a tower and is continued on the following EP SGNL>05. Before I heard this information, Celestial, just like the other Isis albums awoke a different association in me: drowning in a swamp! I'll let you in a little secret(okay, this is embarassing!): I have found my own way of listening to Isis's music. First of all, I throw the headphones away and instead enter a room, close all the doors, turn off the lights. Afterwards, I turn on the music as loud as possible and on top of it all... Yes, you've guessed it, I lie down on the floor and absorb the group's powerful, massive attack!

The group's trademark sound which has become very popular for is present throughout this record. There are either slow or mid-paced riffs, furious low screams that shout phrases that can be considered quite interesting after further investigation, "drowning" drums and occassional basslines that are used sparingly. Electronics are also used in a few occassions and fortunately they don't create that awkward feeling that is often awaken in us when we hear them used in rock music in a senseless, random way. The album is an intense, atmospheric listen, and practically any song except the SGNLs can be considered a highlight. I especially appreciate the sophisticated C.F.T. (New Circuitry and Continued Evolution) with its mellow, quiet guitar melodies, the experimental Deconstructing Towers, which have less vocals than the other tracks.

In conclusion, whilst Celestial does not achieve the title of a masterpiece in my eyes(that's what I would call Panopticon!), no Isis fan should ignore buying this album! The more beautiful side of the group will be better developed in the next full-length releases - Oceanic and the above-mentioned Panopticon, however, the scent of the musicians' Post-Rock influence can be felt here as well. A great release, however, if you are still unfamiliar with the group, I urge you to start with Panopticon - to witness Isis at their best. After that it is a wise choice to explore their catalogue in reversed chronological order, not missing out any EP's either.

Highly recommended!

Trickster F. | 4/5 |


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