Open Mind Saturated Brain

Open Mind Saturated Brain

ZEGEMA BEACH RECORDS

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

ISIS

BandISIS
GenresPunk / Post-Rock / Post-Hardcore / Post-Metal / Hardcore / Doom / Ambient / Noise / Sludge / Drone / Industrial
Related artistsOld Man Gloom, Loga, Palms, Greymachine, House Of Low Culture, Jodis, Lotus Eaters, Mamiffer, Split Cranium, Sumac, The Hollomen, Twilight, Unionsuit, Taiga, The Gersch, Windmills By The Ocean, Age Of Reason, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Japanese Torture Comedy Hour, Cable, Crone, Or Rathol Nok, Spylacopa, MGR, Cast Iron Hike, Empty Flowers and Red Sparowes.
CountryBoston, Massachusetts USA / Los Angeles, California USA
Years Active1997-2010
Song: "Carry"
Album: "Oceanic"
Year: 2002
For fans ofNeurosis, Respire, Tool, Monuments Collapse, Lentic Waters, Fall Of Efrafa, Sarin, Old Man Gloom, Botch, (old) Cave In, Teleportoise, Red Sparowes, Jesu, (later) Back When, Finger Of God, Pelican, Russian Circles, 5ive, Zozobra, Mare, Tephra, Gray Ghost, Angel Eyes, Shahman, Knut, Tigershark, Amber, Milanku, Rosetta, Buried Inside, Quiet Lakes, Titan, TomydeepestegoForensics, Sundowning, Downfall Of Gaia, Llynch, AmenRa, Omega Massif, Locktender, Mogwai, Godspeed, You! Black Emperor, Envy, Hum, (later) Tel Fyr and Godflesh.
Label(s): Self Released / Hydra Head Records / Escape Artist Records / Second Nature Recordings / Tortuga Recordings / Neurot Recordings / Ipecac Recordings / Trust No One Recordings / Ritual Records / Level Plane Records / Daymare Recordings / Robotic Empire / Electric Human Project / Troubleman Unlimited / Profound Lore Records / Conspiracy Records / Disk Union / Viva Hate Records / Konkurrent
This post's artist is from the November 2015 Mix. This is track #1.
You can download: the January Mix#1 right here or get the new February 2016 Mix#2 here.

ISIS was a band. A post-metal band. They were one of, if not the, greatest post-metal band I've ever heard and have influenced countless bands since their inception, some being bad but most being very good. I found ISIS hard to get into at first, much like Cave In, Botch and Converge in the early 2000s when I had moved on from At The Drive and bands such as Hopesfall. Once I fell into the gravitational pull of Hydra Head Records and ISIS in particular, I fell in love. I was fortunate enough to have witnessed four amazing live shows during the band's tenure, and every time I saw Aaron Turner rocking out so hard that when he headbanged his forehead nearly touched the floor in front of his shoes before flying back like he was about to do the limbo. Over the next decade I watched the band closely but near the end of their career they began to level out and stagnate, primarily because of the Neurosis/monotonous singing that was brought in. Regardless, the band's evolution over their 13 year career is a testament to music that will be forever enshrined as some of the grooviest, smartest and heavy post-metal ever to exist.

Let's begin with the dark and haunting as fuck 'Mosquito Control' EP. The opener "Poison Eggs" has a grooving but hellish opening that explodes at the 1:44 mark and injects some seriously satantic screams. The next track titled "Life Under the Swatter" is another banger that is more of a sludgy hardcore/post-metal fest than the first song. The EP itself is a great debut that boasts some deep songwriting and very encompassing atmospherics. I'd give this a 6/10 but in 1998 it would have been more like 8/10.

'The Red Sea' was first released in 1999 and a bunch of times thereafter which includes the '98 Demo' as well as 'The Red Sea'. 'The Red Sea' tracks in particular and fantastic. "The Minus Times" is an amazing song with an intro that rings through my empty skull on a monthly basis, "If you stare at the horizon long enough all you can see is fire. The entire line of the horizon is burning. Fire as far as the eyes can see." Directly following this very hardcore song that relies on speed on a lot of note changes instead of the chug comes "The Red Sea" that has another gem of a movie clip, "You were away. Away in a sea of red," that sets the deep, dark and destructive atmosphere for this prodigious post-metal and sludge fest. Right before the end of the first minute ISIS truly brings in their signature sound with a wall of chugs and those death shrieks on the guitar. The second half of this 7+ minute track is much softer and can be likened to a lot of ISIS' later, more atmospheric and relaxed instrumental music. This release is the starting point for what I consider to be the forever enshrined sound of ISIS and permeates more and more songs as the band evolved. 8/10. The 'Demo 98' tracks follow and can be likened much more towards the 'Mosquito Control' EP with "Smiles and Handshakes" being the best of the bunch. I'd give the demo 5/10.

Next up, the 'Sawblade' EP. This is just silly. The record goes for stupid amounts online (generally well over $200) and quite frankly, the songs are mediocre at best. I almost bid on this once, lost, and later heard the 4 tracks and was ridiculously thankful for my decision to pass on it. It's not even worth discussing. 2.5/10

2000 saw the band going in a direction I wasn't overly impressed with. Perhaps it was primarily because of the inclusion of an "electronics" member, but the 'Celestial' LP and 'Pig Destroyer split' do little to nothing for me. "Streetcleaner" from the split is alright, but the LP tracks are extremely loose, don't flow so well and dabble in noise and drone which do absolutely nothing for me. Both releases would get 3/10 from me.

In 2001 ISIS dropped their 'SGNL>5' EP which houses a song that if it appeared on 'Celestial' the LP would be ranked much higher in my book. "Divine Mother" (The Tower Crumbles)" is a downright sensational track that has ISIS firmly rooted in their emerging style that became their staple. At 8:41 the massive song shifts from death guitars (3 minutes in) to big 'ole chugs of post-metal and to be honest this track sounds a lot like early Old Man Gloom material, which is further reason for you to check this out. The rest of the EP is dismissible so it gets 5/10 but that song gets an 8.5/10!

2002's 'Oceanic' is the ISIS equivalent of 'Jane Doe' (Converge), if you need a very basic comparison of the weight of this record. Not only was the thing pressed a million times (not really, but there have been an insane amount of represses) but all these years later people still come back to 'Oceanic' as the ISIS record. "The Beginning and the End" is a phenomenal opener that captures all of the best aspects of ISIS and the album in particular. In hindsight this song is probably the closest one to being comparable with their follow up record 'Panopticon' which is discussed in detail below. The rhythmic intro leads quickly to massive, falling chunks of riffs that accumulate slowly and build with such epic precision that if you're not bobbing along you should probably stop reading this blog right now. At 1:30 the ambient, atmospheric and bass driven interlude begins which is then peppered throughout the remainder of the 8:01 track, along with squalls of apocalyptic post-metal. The second track titled "The Other" clocks in at 7:14 (this long song pattern continued throughout the remainder of the band's existence, with tracks generally ranging from 5-9 minutes in duration) and is a much more prog based than earlier ISIS material. The droning, swaying instrumentals slosh around for 1:45 with that signature water-drip bass sound before rolling in and out with tides of thick and sludgy post-metal. "False Light" further expands on the already utilized electronics but does so with much more unison than previous records. The onslaught of chuggy guitars begins just before one minute and continues for another two before finally fading back, as it definitely showcases the menacing, destructive power of the band before getting jammy again throughout the midsection of the song.
"Carry" is my fucking jam. Goddamn I love this song. After first listening to the album I thought it was a good song and all but following 10 or so times I finally came to the realization that this song was the best. It begins with a lengthy intro that adds a new layer every 30 seconds or so that include ambient parts and dreamy solos. At exactly four minutes all of the threads and layers meet up and detonate into a beautiful explosion of supernova proportions. "From Sinking" is my last serious love on this masterpiece and wraps up everything that's great on the album with additional accessibility as the instrumentals are very consistent and not unlike Tool. The amount of unreal tracks on this record is staggering. Truly one of the best post-metal records of all time. 9.5/10

In 2004 shit started to go pretty nuts for the band. Sometime around here they started touring with Tool and ISIS released the first two of six live records and four full lengths of 'Oceanic' remixed material from other artists. Oh, and they also released their next LP...so it was more than a little busy! It was right before this album was released that I began listening to ISIS and after I had a copy to call my own I declared this the best ISIS album. It's not. It's really good, but 'Oceanic' and 'In the Absence of Truth' are superior in my books. That being said, one of the greatest ISIS songs of all time is located in the track 4 slot and it's called "Wills Dissolve". The song begins much like "Carry" from 'Oceanic' before busting out that fucking mindblowing guitar riff and bassline at 1:50 that is very reminiscent of Tool. Seriously, I love this thing. It's so jazzy and mathy without being overly chaotic nor complex. Things get heavier nearing the four minute mark when the Pelican-esque instrumentals take hold and Aaron's singing makes an appearance, fitting in quite well before he resorts to throat shredding screams like a lawnmower down the gullet after the shift at 5:25. "Grinning Mouths" is yet another epic song that eclipses the 8-minute mark and slowly shifts around the room, taking root in each corner for extended periods of time and basking in the very different characteristics of each, including ambiance, jazz, heaviness and melody. In hindsight this album get 8/10.

Although 'In the Absence of Truth' throws out a web of relatively monotonous clean vocals, the screaming/yelling/growing and crashing instrumentals more than tip the scales on whether or not this is phenomenal. The clean stuff is actually quite good at parts, take "Not in Rivers, But in Drops" and "Dulcinea" (the first half is good, the latter half is stellar) for example, as the spacey singing is reminiscent of both Hum and Neurosis, Aaron manages to tweak the melodies a few times to catapult the songs into new, and amazing, territory. I had the opportunity to witness the band tour twice after this release and have loads of amazing memories of the band blowing everyone away with both the angelic and devastating parts of the album. "Over Root and Thorn" has a beginning that borders on trippy elevator music until just before three minutes when the crooning vocals dip in and then the Tool influence becomes rather apparent and leads almost directly into the heavy, dense post-metal that I love the band for so much. "Holy Tears" is a great song with an unbelievably cool video that is just a guy falling in slow motion from a building and then hitting the pavement. It's not gory it's just fucking wild. "Garden of Light" sounds like a beautiful nightmare, and is probably the heaviest and most diverse song on the record. An excellent album and an easy 8.5/10. Also released in 2006 was the 'Isis+Aereogramme' split EP but that was already reviewed as a separate entity which you can read here. I didn't give it a score though. Hmmmm, maybe 7.5/10 just because "Low Tide" is much better than the other songs.

2009 saw the release of the band's 5th and final full length record 'Wavering Radiant'.
The opener "Hall of the Dead" inverts the band's later ordering and comes out of the gate with screaming first before mellowing out. It also becomes very apparent that ISIS is really pushing keyboards and atmospherics more than previous recordings. The album itself is slower than all previous outings and is much more honed and focused around building multiple layers of sounds and melodies than rocking the shit out. It works pretty well but upon repeat listens I find the album lacks the power and substance of 'Oceanic' and 'In the Absence of Truth'. "Ghost Key" begins as I generally remember all later ISIS songs sounding. The water-drip bass is almost constant at this point and the twinkly guitars are intertwined with electronics which both add and detract to the music, for me at least. I don't discuss the bad songs, so although the later ISIS didn't speak to me as deeply these songs are still awesome. At nearly 10 minutes "Hand of the Host" lays the song on the spectrum of their music and builds from slow, gentle and serene soundscapes to intense and climactic. In the same vein "20 Minutes/40 Years" has a gentle and catchy beginning that plods along for 3:10 before deciding to give me what I crave. Basically the last few songs on this record sound like good ISIS songs. There's not much more description I can give that's new except a score of 7/10.

Perhaps it is for that reason that ISIS disbanded in 2010 after citing that they didn't want the band's sound to stagnate. Considering I don't think there's a whole lot more they could have done I commend them for it. They did release two final songs on a split 10" with Melvins and those two are definitely bangers and a fitting way to finalize the band's existence. "Way Through Woven Branches" is a cool song that mixes the newer ISIS sound with that of spacey, post-metal band Rosetta. "The Pliable Foe" is a stop/start behemoth to be reckoned with and the correct choice for the band's final song. The split I've gotta give 8.5/10 even though it's only two songs.

In 2012 ISIS released a posthumous collection demos, live and remixed material on a 3xcd called 'Temporal'. I was extremely pumped for the release and also very let down once I listened to it. I was hoping to find rare gems and different takes that gave further depth to the band and their songs. Instead I've never really ventured back to the release with the exception of the 'Melvins split' songs and the "False Light" demo.

Well that's it folks. I've put a massive download online as the majority of the songs on their are hard to find. It's missing a few remixes and the last live record but it's a pretty complete collection otherwise - besides the EPs and LPs that are in print. So this is a big collection of the really rare stuff. Enjoy.
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DISCOGRAPHY
Click )==>here<==( to download the band's out of print discography in mp3/wma form.

1998 - Demo 98 cassetteEP
1998 - The Mosquito Control cd/12"EP

1999 - The Red Sea cd/8"/12"EP
1999 - Sawblade cd/12"EP

2000 - Celestial cd/2x12"LP
2000 - Pig Destroyer split 7"EP

2001 - SGNL>5 cd/12"EP

2002 - Oceanic cd/2x12"LP

2004 - Panopticon cd/2x12"LP
2004 - 09.23.03 (aka Live 1) cd/12"LP
2004 - 03.19.03 (aka Live 2) cd/2x12"LP
2004 - Oceanic Remixes I 12"LP
2004 - Oceanic Remixes II 12"LP
2004 - Oceanic Remixes III 12"LP
2004 - Oceanic Remixes IV 12"LP
2004 - Oceanic Remixes/Reinterpretations 2xcd/4x12"LP box set

2005 - 12.17.04 (aka Live 3) cd/2x12"LP

2006 - In the Absence of Truth cd/2x12"LP
2006 - In the Fishtank #14 (aka Isis+Aereogramme collaboration) cd/12"EP
2006 - Selections 2001-2005 (aka Live 4) cd/2x12"LP
2006 - Clearing the Eye dvd

2008 - Shades of the Swarm 12x12"LP (box set 1998-2006)
2008 - Holy Tears cd/12"single
2008 - Not in Rivers, But in Drops cdsingle

2009 - Wavering Radiant cd/2x12"LP
2009 - 07.23.06 (aka Live 5) cd/2x12"LP

2010 - Melvins split 12"EP

2012 - Temporal dvd/2xcd/3xcd/3x12"LP compilation
2012 - 11.16.07 (aka Live 6) 2x12"LP
2012 - Live 1-6 6xcd (box set)
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(1998) ISIS - "Smiles and Handshakes" (from '98 Demo')

(1998) ISIS - "Poison Eggs" (from 'Mosquito Control')

(1999) ISIS - "The Red Sea" (from 'The Red Sea')

(2001) ISIS - "Divine Mother (The Tower Crumbles)" (from 'SGNL>5')

(2002) ISIS - "The Beginning and the End" (from 'Oceanic')

(2004) ISIS - "Wills Dissolve" (from 'Panopticon')

(2004) ISIS - "In Fiction" (from 'Panopticon') official music video

(2006) ISIS - "Dulcinea" (from 'In the Absence of Truth')

(2006) ISIS - "Holy Tears" (from 'In the Absence of Truth') official music video

(2006) ISIS - "Low Tide" (from 'In the Fishtank #14')

(2009) ISIS - "Hall of the Dead" (from 'Wavering Radiant')

(2009) ISIS - "20 Minutes/40 Years" (from 'Wavering Radiant') official music video

(2009) ISIS - "Carry" (from '7.23.06')

(2010) ISIS - "The Pliable Foe" (from 'Melvins' split)

(2012) ISIS - "False Light (demo)" (from 'Temporal')

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ISIS out of print mp3/wma out of print discography download / additional links

(download here)

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