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(54 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • This album was my first introduction to Isis. Coming out of a hardcore background, I expected this to be very fast and harsh. It wasn’t at all. It really is heavy, but definitly not harsh. There’s a passion in this music, but it’s not fueled by anger. There’s emotion, but it’s not something you hear often. Or hear at all. I was set back at first by the grunting. It’s just not my thing and usually I cannot stand monotone grunting vocals. That is what bothered me on this album. At first, but I was wrong. It’s not the average grunt here. It’s heavy, sure, but there’s real expression to be found in the vocals, playing on screaming out with emotion and throatsounds swallowing beautiful poetic words.When I got through that I discovered the beauty of this piece. This cannot be labeled as “hardcore” or “metal”. It’s beyond it and it reaches much further. If there would be any kind of comparison, I rather would compare it to the musical build ups and explorations found in post-rock like Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor. Don’t get me wrong, this is rock and Isis does not sound like the aforementioned bands at all, but they have just as ingenious intense build ups and moving in their music. Finding beauty in heaviness. The album is themed. You could picture someone abandoned on an uninhabited island, at one point even hearing the sea and sirens. But it’s not a predictable theme. This album keeps surprising the listener. After the melodic and gentle Maritime comes Weight in which the female vocals give you an idea of what heaven may sound like backed up by the most melodic and impressive guitar tunes you will hear in this kind of music. Whichever that is.This album is a must have for every hardcore, metal and music fan.

    Posted on March 17, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This…this is the kind of music that becomes hard to describe; Its very unique, very different, and very good. ISIS can sound incredibly heavy when they want to, and they can sound incredibly relaxing when they want to.

    If I had to compare them with other bands I’d say that they have the heaviness and vocals of MASTODON, the rippling bass lines and the sometimes peaceful atmosphere of TOOL, and…well the rest is pure ISIS.

    I grabbed this CD because I recently became very interested in this more alternative side of metal. Listening to bands like PELICAN and RED SPARROWES. None of these alternative bands are easy to listen to, ISIS being the only one of the 3 to have any vocals. It WILL take you many listens to truly enjoy this release. I’ve been listening to it for over a week and a half now and I still bump into times where my ears perk up, hearing something that wasn’t easily noticed upon previous listens.

    I do like the fact that ISIS actually have vocals in their music, because it makes their albums easier to digest and easier to tell where you are in a song, and you just get a generally better feel from the album when alls said and done. I also love the Lyrics and the way they are sung and written, although its not easy to hear any obvious words in Turner’s howling vocals unless you have the lyrics right in front of you. I think Turner has a better clean voice then yell, but I enjoy both of his singing styles. The vocals really remind me of Troy sander’s Vocal style; in that Some think they sound horrible and others think that they suit this type of music very well. Me being part of the latter group of course.

    If you are into more Alternative/Avant Garde/Progressive metal then you most likely will enjoy this CD. Although its really hard to say If you’ll enjoy it or not. Because it boils down to your willingness to listen to an album many times over, and how open-minded you are about music, composition, and song structure. (no chorus’s here)

    When I first listened to “Oceanic” I thought it felt very hollow and boring, with dull riffs and vocals. But upon closer inspection I realized just how amazing it is. The songs progression is really something to hear, as the songs get more intense and climatic near the end of the song almost like a story.(“Weight” in particular) And the more mellow parts are also outstanding; from the squeal of Marine Creatures in “-”, to the psychedelic guitar work of “Maritime”, to the soft passages between walls of sound in “The Beginning and the End”, to the relaxing bass lines in “The Other”. This CD is a true classic of alternative and progressive metal. And like any true classic, it needs time to grow on you.

    Personal “Unskipables”
    - False Light
    - The Beggining And The End
    - Maritime
    - Hym

    Posted on March 17, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This album instantly wins the distinction of being in the top 1% of my collection. It’s a classic. There are nine songs, all but two of which are between seven and eleven minutes long. The songs build and fall, ebb and flow, much like, well, an ocean (and with the nautical titles, I think we have a theme on our hands…). For those that didn’t know them before, ISIS was an extremely heavy band, somewhat similar to Godflesh and Neurosis, and now comparisons to Godspeed You Black Emperor wouldn’t be too far off. ISIS’ heavy edge has been somewhat tempered on Oceanic, but it’s all for the best. They’ve finally come into a territory that belongs solely to them. It’s unique and beautiful. Though this is heavy music, it transcends any categorization of “metal” or “hardcore.” There is melody soaking through this album, and it’s not trite and repeated like standard pop melody; rather, it is unique and fascinating. This record achieves the ideal of being beautiful and heavy at the same time, and this isn’t just hyperbole. The songs and album are never boring or repetetive despite their lengths; they rise from quiet and atmospheric introductions and build to torrential pounding rhythms, and subside again as they came. The guest vocals of Maria and Ayl (from another great Boston band, 27) are a stellar inclusion, and really round out some already amazing songs. The album is an odyssey; I can’t stop listening to it.Even if I weren’t a fan before this, this album would instantly convert me. I give it a 13 out of 15 on the Gnosis2000 scale: a classic, one of the best albums ever made. I recommend it to everyone, whether a heavy music fan or not. Give it a chance, and you’ll love it.

    Posted on March 16, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • If asked to describe the sheer brilliance that is Isis’ “Oceanic”, I would undoubtably respond with those two phrases. Everything about “Oceanic”, from its emotional, multilayered instrumentations, to its beautifully abstract lyrics, to its ambient, highly dynamic atmosphere, is absolutely astonishing. It’s not often that I can sit down and actually listen to a 63 minute album the entire way through, but with Isis’ “Oceanic”, it’s far too easy. Every song plays off the previous to create a broad listening experience, and in the end strikingly seems to come together as one giant piece. While Isis is commonly associated with the hardcore and metal crowds (after all their vocalist Aaron Turner is the owner of hardcore heavyweight Hydrahead Records, which is responsible for such acts as Cave In and Botch among others), there is very little about this band that fits with the traditional hardcore or metal sound, and that in turn is one of the greatest strengths of Isis. If experimental, atmospheric and well thought out rock, with hints of metal and other genres, is something which you like, then “Oceanic” is an album you must own.

    While every album Isis has released has been genius in its own way, and each has brought something unique and different to the table, “Oceanic” still remains my favorite piece of material from the band. While the previous “Celestial” has a much more metal feel with experimental temptations layered in (ala Godflesh), and the following record “Panopticon” would have a much broader atmospheric nature, “Oceanic” combines the best of both worlds. The band is still heavy in the needed places, but in others the instrumental sections are astounding. The loud soft dynamic hasn’t been played up this well since Fugazi. While I hate to single out any tracks on this album, because I still like to think of it as one giant 63 minute epic, “The Beginning And The End”, “Carry” and “Hym” are among my favorite tracks. I especially love the soft, almost indecipherable female vocals which creep into “Carry” and “Weight”. The only true way to appreciate the beauty this record carries though, is to listen to it from beginning to end, and see how well it fits together. Almost like the pieces of a puzzle (to sound terrible cliche). I couldn’t imagine any one track being in a different place, or others being added/omitted. That’s part of the appeal of “Oceanic”.

    If you are a casual fan of music, “Oceanic” may present a difficult listen at first. When most songs run anywhere from 7-10 minutes in length, it does take some getting used to if you are more accustomed to conventional musical patterns and styles. However once that security barrier has been breached, you can fully understand the beauty of this record. Something which makes this album very different from any others Isis has put forth is the way in which the music is pushed to the front, and Aaron’s vocals seem to be more of a background element. While this may seem strange at first, it works wonders here. In fact as many have said, this whole album itself, it seems, could be all instrumental were his vocals simply taken out. The way they are inserted adds much affect to the songs though, as seen on “From Sinking” and “False Light” (two of the album’s heavier tracks) where the vocals and the music combine together to make a beautiful sound, without one overpowering the other.

    Musically the band is among the most creative and skilled in any genre. The vocal style is something that many would not expect, were someone to describe to you what the music on this album sounds like. Aaron Turner opts to insert a traditional hardcore guttural scream, which as odd as it may sound, fits perfectly with the dynamic that the group creates. His vocals sound somewhere along the lines of Steven Brodsky’s of Cave In on “Until Your Heart Stops”, although they are not as loud, rough or overpowering. Sometimes they get somewhat melodic, but not too often. Like I said they are much more of a background element. The guitar compositions are extraordinary works in themselves, and are easily one of the most memorable aspects of the record. From loud to soft, or technical to broad, Gallagher (and sometimes Meyer) catapult the band to forefront of all experimental or noise driven rock outfits. Individual tracks like “The Beginning And The End”, “Carry” and “From Sinking” have striking guitar parts. The drums and bass are the perfect rhythm section for the band, as they are important pieces of the music at times (the first 4 minutes of so of “Weight” relies entirely on the drumming), but don’t show off or try to be noticed. They are best when the simply drift along with the rest of the band. The atmopsheric effects and keyboards added in by Chris Mereshuk are just brilliant touches. The sound which the band produces when making music together is simply unparalleled, and has a must-listen-to-be-appreciated type of nature.

    There is really not enough praise I could give to Isis or “Oceanic”. Listening to the record gives me the same wonderful feeling everytime I pop it in, and that’s a reason why I fell in love with this album so quickly. While it doesn’t necessarily have the type of sound you would expect at first, the massive, oceanic (forgive the comparison, but it works so well) feeling of the record is second to none. The ocean is the perfect way to describe Isis’ sound, because much like the sea, they are broad and ever-changing. “Oceanic” is simply a masterpiece that should most definitely be given a listen by all fans of music who appreciate well crafted musical compositions. So far Isis has done no better. Just jump in already, and drift out with the tide.

    Posted on March 16, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This album is simply brilliant. Isis creates a truly “oceanic” sound that would cause Devin Townsend to rethink the sound of the metal sea. I’m lacking much reference for describing Isis, since this is the only album by them I have heard. The music is technically simple, but texturally and compositionally sublime. It has a big, full, beautiful sound rivaled by few, which is especially remarkable since the lineup is basically just a straight-up metal band. All elements are used for macro-effect rather than micro-effect. The primitive beauty of the riffs, the rigid, closely-knit rhythmic integration, and the huge heaviness (but heaviness of the ancient weight of water, not military bombardment) give the music a great mystical power. The hardcore screams appear to be an odd choice with music so atmospheric, but within seconds you realize how well it fits. Some parts can be extremely minimal in their compositional core, and yet with the band’s incredible sound the repetition is not dull or hypnotic, but deeply invigorating. The band’s grasp of dynamics is Tool-like but resulting in a far different, primordial effect. It sounds like a metal band tapping into the very _ancientness_ of the ocean. I can’t really describe any individual pieces because I don’t know the song titles that well because when I listen to it I just think of it as a seamless epic, and I don’t consciously think about where the songs are ending and beginning. But it is a holistic piece as a work of music and a sonic experience. Most incredible is the album’s atmosphere. It is raw, powerful, and enthralling like the siren’s song. Definitely recommended to fans of “ocean metal” like _Ocean Machine_. In fact, this is even better.

    Posted on March 16, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now