Isis are a metal band from Boston that create incredibly dense music. While their influence is mainly extreme music (metal, hardcore), their music has just as much ambience and atmosphere to it as it does raw agression and complexity. The band layer different types of sounds into their music to create the thick signature sound that is their own. Isis' vocals are a mix of shouting, screaming and singing. The easiest and most obvious band to compare Isis to is Neurosis. Isis formed in 1997 and released their brilliant full length debut album in the year 2000, "Celestial". Oceanic is the group's second full length album.
"Oceanic" is a welcome and most logicals step foward from Isis' debut album, "Celestial". Upon it's release, "Oceanic" met some comparisons to post-rock bands such as Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky and Godspeed! You Black Emperor. While these comparisons may seem inaccurate before hearing the album, these comparisons are actually very well founded. "Oceanic" is not as heavy as "Celestial" but it would stupid to say that this album isn't heavy, because it is extremely heavy, dense and thick music. It's Mastodon meets Mogwai! The album seems to be a concept album, though it is not entirely clear what exactly the concept of it is. The album's songs don't really seem to move towards a conclusion, as much as they seem to evolve towards it.
There is enough of distortion and deathy growls to sastisfy any metalhead, but there is a lot of clean and ambient parts that fans of bands like Radiohead and the aforementioned group of post-rock bands will love. The album's centerpiece, "Maritime" revolves around a clean arpeggiated guitar riff, while the drumming drives it along and bass and electronics swirl around the sounds of the song. The song's follower, "Weight" picks up where it left off, with a good first part of the song being entirely ambient with mainly synth sounds and drums gradually getting louder. The song even has sweet sounding female vocals in it, completely sung with no trace of distortion. At the same time though, the music maintains it's thick, dense sound. The song feels like it will explode into shouted vocals with massive distortion throughout most of it, yet it is impossible to judge when this will happen. The album's heavy parts are also special. It's like taking the sludge metal sounds of the Melvins, mixing them with the vocals of Mastodon and adding Isis' love of ambient electronic sounds to the heavy parts.
Musically, Isis are a brilliant band and without the level of skill that the band have on their instruments, "Oceanic" would most likely fall flat on it's face. Vocally, the music takes a while to get used to, but without the signature vocals, the music would not have a certain quality about it. The lyrics are hard to understand because of the thick delivery but this is a brilliant album lyrically as well. Guitar wise, the album is full of palm muted thick power chords and massive distortion. When clean, the guitars play some very nice leads and arpeggiated melodies, adding to the music's ambience. The bass parts are very nice also, switching between playing melodic and rhythmic parts. The drums on the album are very powerful, much like Dale Crover's role in the Melvins. The best part about the drums is the production. They always sound perfect. The electronics in the band create an ambience that many bands would die for.
Isis second album is perfect in every way. There is not a flaw to be found on the album, except perhaps the length of the songs may not work for some more impatient listeners. But then again, this music isn't really for impatient people.
- The band are brilliant musicians
- Great atmosphere all through the record
- Every song is equally amazing, there are really no standouts at all
- Thick sound gives Isis a signature tone
- Good lyrics
- Song length's may bore some listeners
For Fans Of:
Dillinger Escape Plan
FINAL RATING: 5/5