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Isis Celestial album cover
3.38 | 84 ratings | 7 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. SGNL>01 (0:55)
2. Celestial (The Tower) (9:42)
3. Glisten (6:34)
4. Swarm Reigns (Down) (6:01)
5. SGNL>02 (0:51)
6. Deconstructing Towers (7:30)
7. SGNL>03 (0:34)
8. Collapse and Crush (5:55)
9. C.F.T. (New Circuitry and Continued Evolution) (5:42)
10. Gentle Time (7:02)
11. SGNL>04 (End Transmission) (1:06)

Total Time: 51:52

Line-up / Musicians

- Aaron Turner / guitar, vocals
- Mike Gallagher / guitar
- Bryant Clifford Meyer / electronics, guitar, vocals (10)
- Jeff Caxide / bass
- Aaron Harris / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Aaron Turner

CD Escape Artist Records ‎- EA 7.0 (2000, US)
CD Ipecac Recordings ‎- IPC145 (2013, US) Remastered by Chris Common with new cover art

Thanks to useful_idiot for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy ISIS Celestial Music

IPEC0 2015
$12.34 (used)
CELESTIAL + SGNL 05(2CD)(paper-sleeve)(remaster)(reissue)CELESTIAL + SGNL 05(2CD)(paper-sleeve)(remaster)(reissue)
DIW Records (JAPAN)

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ISIS Celestial ratings distribution

(84 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ISIS Celestial reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Trickster F.
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!

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Celestial is the debut album from post metal band Isis. Isis is a band I have heard and read a lot about in the recent years and a couple of years ago I borrowed Isis third album Panopticon from 2004. I could hear a lot of potential on that album, but after listening to Panopticon for a while I found that it didnīt really suit my taste. After seing that Isis is included on Prog Archives I have decided to start from an end and review all Isis albums and hopefully be positively surprised and ignite a new interest in the band.

The music on Celestial is generally slow to mid-tempo post metal with vocals. The music can seem a bit repetitive but itīs a characteristic feature in post metal and post rock. The riffs are very heavy and most of them are pretty great. Most of the songs have chrushingly heavy parts and slow minimalistic acoustic parts. C.F.T. (New Circuitry and Continued Evolution) is a bit different though as it is a post rock song without the heavy parts. The inclusion of this song is great for the diversity of the album. Deconstructing Towers is a slow dragging instrumental track that I could have done without while songs like Celestial (The Tower), Glisten, Swarm Reigns (Down) and especially Collapse and Crush are great post metal songs. There is a depressive and at times angry mood on the album and the shouting vocals emphasise that mood perfectly.

The musicianship is good and one of the things I enjoy the most is the drumming during the slow acoustic parts. Itīs very heavy but also very inventive.

The production is a bit too low-fi for my taste when Isis play their acoustic parts but all in all the production is good. A larger than life production would have done the trick for me though.

My conclusion is that Celestial is a very good album in the post metal genre. Iīm not particularly a fan of this genre, but I do enjoy this album as well as other albums in that style from bands like Neurosis and Omega Massif. The music is a bit too repetitive to really suit my taste but Iīll rate Celestial 3 stars as it is one of the better post metal albums I have heard so far. There are some really heavy stuff on this album that I enjoy very much.

Review by Bonnek
3 stars Isis is one of the few post-Neurosis bands that captured my attention. Not being a bit fan of post-metal and post-rock in general, Isis managed to create some albums that, while not highly original, are still excellently written, betraying a knack for songwriting that most bands in this field can only dream of.

The main purpose of this music is to be heavy, monolithic even. And in order to make the heaviness sound as heavy as possible, post-rock/metal always resorts to crescendos and endless quite/loud dynamics. Isis have the rare gift to be both adept at crushingly heavy doom rock and meaningful soff noodling. On further albums they would get even better at the soft parts.

Not every track on this album is equally inspired. Especially Celestial (The Tower), the softer C.F.T. and the epic Gentle Time are worth checking out. The remainder of the songs are competent but for fans of the style. Celestial is a good debut from one of the many Neurosis-inspired 00's bands. Mostly it makes for an appealing but not for what I would call a requiered listen.Unless you're a post-metal fan of course.

Review by sleeper
2 stars All bands have to start somewhere and in terms of recorded music this is where Isis began. Celestial provides a slice of Post Metal that is undeniably heavily infuesed with the sludgy, industrial feel of Neurosis, the progenetors of the Post Metal scene. But, to describe them as simply a Neurosis clone would be doing Isis quite the disservice as they are already adding something of their selves to the style with a higher level of detail in the quiter moments as well as a far broader pallette of sounds in the programming and samples department to flesh out the sound.

However, heaviness is quite definitely the name of the game with big, chugging, mid-tempo riffs from Aaron Turner and Mark Gallagher supported by Jeff Caxides pulsing bass lines dominating the album. Sadly though, this is part of Celestials undoing as the riffs are too repetative, lack for variation and outright development to truly lift the level of this album to something great. I cant help find the switches from the wall of sound to the calmer moments and back again to be largely clunky in feel and these problems all add up to kill the atmosphere of the album before its had a real chance to get a hold of the listener. All of these problems can be put down to the fact that they are a new band on this album and as such havnt had a chance to develop their skills in the art of composition, something they will rectify in the years to come. Mind you, its not all bad, not by a long shot. Celestial (The Tower), Swarm Reigns (Down) and Gentle Time are 3 excellent tracks. Swarm Reigns (Down) shows this Neurosis inspired style of Post Metal at its best, whilst Gentle Times points to things to come with an allecraty that is quite surprising. And then there's the title track, Clestial (The Tower). This magnificent piece of work shows the band at its best and the loose structure has made for ample oppurtunity for improvisation in their live shows (witness the 17 minute version the live album Live II), all of which has meant that this track has a remained a fan favourite and a staple of their live act for 10 years now.

An interesting debut but in the end it pales into comparison with what they wil be able to do on future releases. Celestial also marks the end of an era where Neurosis where the dominant force in Post Metal because from the bands next release, Oceanic, Isis will take that mantel. 2.5 stars, good but nothing special from a band capable of far more.

Review by TCat
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.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Chugga-chugga-chugga; the perfect way to sum up Isis's unique interpretation of raw power. I've not heard Isis's other albums yet so cannot comment on their career as a whole but this album appealed to me from the very start. Through the wonders of Spotify I discovered the track Celestial (The ... (read more)

Report this review (#259348) | Posted by Citizen Erased | Monday, January 4, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After their second ep "Red Sea", which was released in 1999, Isis write the material for their first studio album, "Celestial". Jay Randall who had replaced Chris Mereschuk leaves the band. Cliff Meyer will come to fill this space and Cast Iron Hike's guitarist will also join. The line-up hasn ... (read more)

Report this review (#101765) | Posted by sularetal | Wednesday, December 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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