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If the Isis Oceanic was the band as an important and distinctive character in the metal world, Panopticon has intensified its efforts to further expand outside the borders of the world, and it is a mighty successful in business. If I had to deal with some frame of reference, I guess I would say that Panopticon combines the high ambitions of the spiritual tool of cosmic instrumental sound of Mogwai, and (sometimes) the plodding seriousness of Mastodon, Isis, but still pending a musical vision of its own. Everything about this album is ePIC: epic music, epic vocals, epic arrangements and, above all, epic song lengths. These guys are clearly out to attract the attention of the audience, as these seven tracks clock trip in about an hour. Compare this to Pig Destroyer's latest effort, at 21 tracks with over 32 minutes, and you can see, you are responsible for a harrowing listen.
due its further development, Isis Panopticon looks even better on their metallic fury tempering with some heavy doses of maturity. It is hardly unprecedented for major bands to inject extended passages of relative calm in the music (see Opeth), Isis, but still remarkable how seamlessly they manage to mix so many different elements. Their songs are not just arbitrarily move from one sound to another, they shrink and recede from heavy to lighter passages and back, the administration, a single mood, whether they are idling about you or beating you over the head. How Oceanic while Panopticon is divided into individual tracks, it is essentially an extended atmospheric piece, with a free-form structure, more on exploration and experimentation than its predecessor. Although Panopticon is still quite difficult, Isis now have all but abandoned their Neurosis-style Depression-metal sound for a looser, more grandiose feel, and I must say that it is very good.
Since Panopticon is generally not as hard as its predecessor, it stands to reason that Aaron Turner's vocal intensity should be adjusted to, and he has, in fact, take a notch here. It is obvious that Isis destination for a diverse and far-reaching sound, and Aaron is helping them along here by extending its range beyond his typical monotone. The huge, thudding roar that it will be a major impact on the Oceanic is still in evidence in some places, but also mixes Aaron much cleaner, even melodic, singing. By and large, they are pretty solid, if unspectacular, even if Isis's vocals have always been more about the music than on their own anyway.
Of course, since Panopticon is still largely instrumental as Oceanic, the song usually backseat anyway. Your dual-guitar attack is in general and in the middle, which is as it should be, as some of the Panopticon provides tremendous guitar work in recent memory. While there are some tricky polyrhythms here to find Isis's guitar sound is more about atmosphere than anything else, with the two axes into each other perfectly, a great wash of sound by a mixture of thundering riffs and delicate tonalities.
The drums is a plus, as well, since it rather technical, but more about promoting the general atmosphere than anything else. Sometimes, even across borders metronome, usually something like a Downer, but here it is only in the hypnotic feel that the guitar and vocals to create. Even the bass is represented here by a beautiful, loping Rumble, which is remarkable, even if only for the fact that so much of this genre lacks bass presence.
Although I this album a hearty recommendation, should note that I did not for all. The persistent mood and persistent mid-tempo pace will certainly be fascinating to some as boring and of others who are not entirely inappropriate. As we have seen, on this side, some people just not the big deal over an hour-long album that never seems to change speed. That is, if you're looking for something else, something sophisticated, something that is difficult, but not in the traditional “metal” way can be much worse than Panopticon. This is a must for the adventurous rivothead.
With the release of 2002 Oceanic, I knew this band was really amazing for something that, if it is not already. The manner in which they had from their previous albums kind anticipate what their next album may bring. This album is much softer than in previous versions, but I assure you, it's still metal. You may have noticed Oceanic started this trend, with a little more clean vocals, some clean instrumental parts in the songs, and fewer raw hardcore totally chaotic guitar madness. Panopticon continue with more clean vocals as before. The clean vocals are rough and usually not so harmonious (but they have improved a lot since Oceanic), but they are best that way. And Isis' vocals are usually “behind” the music instead of “before” of IT, the more on the music. If you already Oceanic, you probably know what I mean. Most of the album, as Oceanic is for (I would say that around three quarters). This has much more progressive, complex, unpredictable song structures, the band shows the sheer depth and intensive development. Even though the guitars are usually not as difficult or hard for so long, they have so much more depth and complexity. There is a lot more post-rock instrumental passages, such as clean, for a kind of post-metal sound.
This great masterpiece starts with “Did we,” which is a candidate for one of my top 25 or 50 songs (not that I want). It is probably the best new song I've heard this year, and even my favorite song so far Isis. It recalls that Isis is still made of metal by using a stomping riff heavy and sudden hardcore-style vocals. This is for a very short time, until the gravity abruptly stops and makes way for one of the best instrumental passages Isis created. Then it will be harder again with some good clean vocals. Then for a further five minutes, is nothing more than instrumental, keep it on the modification and the relocation and development … could not be better. When you finally get to the end of this song, it sounds absolutely nothing, what it did when it started, that's how music should be.
“Backlit” starts very melodic and very of Isis have done everything and continue on this path, it's a brave new direction for the band. There are a lot of clean vocals here, which actually sound good and melodic, including a part where he was switching between hardcore and clean (probably the best part of the song). This song continues with many instrumental parts with some exceptional melodies and the song ends with a bombardment of gravity.
“In Fiction” begins very quiet, kind of like “weight” on Oceanic. He adds that, according to rhythm and layers, and no voice for the first 4 minutes. Then it starts to live with the addition of some clean vocals and keeps amazing progress. A very solid song. It cleverly shifts right into the “Wills Dissolve”, which also starts quietly with a slightly eerie feeling pensive, and then a very haunting, melodic clean surfaces – even a completely different direction for the band. Also, the song unfolds steadily, until he has a full sound with vocals, and there are some pretty good, simple (for a change) clean vocals here.
The previous song to the next behind the back (a feature that more and more epic albums makes, in my opinion). “Syndic Calls” is a very well constructed song, the beginning is just that certain Isis vibe that I once in a while. It is a small section with vocals and then an interesting instrumental part. If this song is almost over, there is a small amount of clean vocals over heavy guitars, at the perfect time to the song. The construction of this part is just great. I must say, these are some of the most powerful of Aaron Turner's clean vocals and is probably the best he has done, although it only lasts like 30 seconds. This song is definitely fast, it definitely does not seem like his 9 and a half minute.
“Altered Course” is a 10-minute instrumental, which features Justin Chancellor of Tool on bass guitar. This song has a very, very long time to grow on me. I was very impressed by him at first. It seemed very random and directionless, but now I can sense the progression and complicated structure behind the song. There are some sweet riffs at the beginning, but the song is more ambient air slowly towards the end and fades. Some may think it just drones too long with very little change, but I think it builds a great atmosphere. “Grinning Mouths” begins suddenly and is another without singing for the first 4 minutes. The first 2 minutes or so a heavy instrumental, and then makes it softer with some great melodies. The reef starts at about 4:45 on for the rest of the songs, after a while the voice added, and the reef is always harder and faster until it breaks itself really ends the album with a bang.
I think fans of Tool who are not in a much more obscure music Isis still really enjoy this album especially. They have some similarities with the tool (and are a member of a band playing on this album) and a few notches on the heavier side. I also think fans of Godspeed You Black Emperor, also in other metal, would really appreciate this album. If you are a fan of Isis for a long time and said that they have great potential … This is where the potential it has. All the potential was bundled and released on the album. You have, of course, most bands do, I think for the better. Well, the big question: better than Oceanic? Well, it is very difficult to say. Some people love and hate this Oceanic. I have not really seen that the situation is reversed. But many people like them. I personally think that Panopticon is a little better, but it is still difficult to say at this point.
3.0 out of 5 stars
I’m not disgusted
I was well prepared to hear some really mediocre music when I decided to give Panopticon a listen, but instead, it’s not the worst choice for someone looking to hear some (mostly)…
5.0 out of 5 stars
Can anything top Oceanic?
In 2002 Isis hit the seas. Now they’re talking about prisons. I always imaginated a “panopticon” with the warden at the center of a honeycomb of cells.
Just heard this band on the last tour tool. Was very intrigued by their sound, and although it does not really sound awesome live – given the number of instruments playing at the same time (or maybe it was the place) – I kind of found out what they are trying to do. So I bought the album. I was not disappointed.
Post-Rock, Post-Metal, what you want to call them. I personally think this is where rock meets metal. So if you like both, they will like this album. It is clean and death vocals. Song structure is very progressive-oriented, with each song gradually to a first simple melody or song or riff. They sound a bit like Agalloch, the latter being more metal-oriented, but similar concept. People who like ISIS should try Agalloch The Mantle.
I really like the first two songs a lot. I've played countless times. The rest of the album is good but not outstanding – this is the reason why I did it 4 stars.
As for the vocals, if you have a black / ambient metal head, you will not understand what people are talking about when they say they are “weak”. The guys on some tracks, growling and clean vocals on others. Granted it has no classical singer or something, singing, but here are “behind” the music, and should be used as another instrument.
This is definitely one to buy for people who have contributed to a variety of ambient-oriented metal and tool and are looking for something new. Nice.
5.0 out of 5 stars
An Epic Auditory Experience
As an avid Isis fan, I may be bias. However, Panopticon is by far their best work yet. Blending the intense sounds and coarse vocals with technical harmony and mind-blowing…
5.0 out of 5 stars
Alternately melodic and majestic
Panopticon sees Isis alternate between magnificent, heavy, distorted guitars / growling vocals and quieter, melodic clean guitars with slightly dodgy cleaner vocals.
1.0 out of 5 stars
First Isis CD
Panopticon is my first Isis cd…and probably my last. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I got this, but I sure wasn’t expecting an instrumental CD.
5.0 out of 5 stars
I first heard of ISIS in the magazine Revolver’s issue of the 50 heaviest bands of all time. ISIS was something like 12th on the list, and having never heard of them I decided…
5.0 out of 5 stars
Post Metal Bliss
This was the first Isis cd I bought. It was also my first step into the world of Post Metal or as Aaron likes to put it “Thinking Man’s Metal”.
4.0 out of 5 stars
The band still gets 4 stars, but the album is closer to 3
I find this album very easy to diagnose, once I put it in my headphones and got a moment alone with it.
5.0 out of 5 stars
So, Panopticon arrives in the mail along with around twenty other albums that were purchased around various recommendations that were made in passing by a few fellow forum-goers…
1.0 out of 5 stars
Lame Tool rip-off
Somehow these guys landed the opening slot for Tool this summer. They sucked……hard. They are nothing more than a bad Tool cover band.
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