Review Summary: An EP that plays along the story of "Celestia"l might not be a must have because of it's length but still proves to carry "Isis" like strength.Isis is a band of many sounds
and influences which loves to confuse such genre whores. Aaron Turner, who plays guitar and does the subdued vocals stated publicly that influences come from Tool, Godflesh, and Neurosis. Early releases were derided as imitative of predecessors Neurosis with obvious elements and similarities being connected. To say the least for any band that has over 10 releases the sound of a band will have many different phases and life’s which is ironic since each Isis song seems to inhabit the same qualities. I’m not going to lie but I thought the first Isis release with the Sawblade EP was awful. Way too much sludge metal influenced and way too much repetition which feels like they go nowhere. Oh did I mention Isis has “a thing” for tracks to run close to 10 minutes a lot of the time? While many artists do this for an atmospheric expression how many of us can admit that we’re bound to get bored or fall asleep with our short attention spans. Isis is quite a different band and I feel like in the SGNL>05 record they break away from their previous limits and start wandering into new ground. After all the epic masterpieces of Oceanic and Panopticon are the albums that follow this one…
Once again this is a band which each album tells a story so they say. I’m surprised that I wasn’t flamed for not wanting to follow the Coheed and Cambria story in my latest review and the same will go here. The whole interllectual (non-musical) elements of story with bands you can tell I’m not a fan of but always intrigued by. For SGNL>05 the best I could tell you is twin control towers fall and get rebuilt by some colony… um the end. With this being said SGNL>05 starts off where Celestial leaves off… a final transmission. The introduction of this track feels exactly like a control room of some sorts. The eerie piano parts and freakish typing of a keyboard of some sort really gets the feeling of being in a submarine for me personally. If your all for the story and the extreme atmospheric elements of the Isis albums then you’ll probably find yourself right at home. For the casual listener on the other hand, it feels nothing more then a filler track for “Divine Mother”. “Divine Mother” is where the music swells in and that infamous chugging metal sludge sound comes in from Isis. If your in the new era of Isis releases it’s hard to believe that their songs used to have such meshuggah like chugging.
The other thing you might notice is the fact that the vocals don’t feel half as subdued on the later albums. The vocals themselves follow the same guidelines as the newest releases with a brasher and more raw tone that I personally like better. The vocals also seem to be a tad more inaudible in the sense of volume with the instruments (that could also be my crappy head phones). Let it be known though that I feel like this band can’t have full justice to their work without a good set of speakers. The drums are all over the place with different on and off beats and never feel out of place. The guitar works on a more ambient approach during the verses and the massive chuggalug during the chorus. When in full stride during the chorus the band produces a massively heavy sound which isn’t because of overproduction on effects or because my headphones are on too loud but more because of the layers of music the band enforces the listener to notice. By the 5 minute mark the music comes to a sudden halt and takes a different song construction approach. This is what I love so MUCH about this band. Almost like a new song but without fading away comes in a more prevalent lead guitar and clashing drums. It just feels like that trademark Isis jam session like atmosphere they never fail to create but only in it’s beginning stages. While owning this record you could point out all of the sexual technological, surgical, genetically altered… improvements within the bands craftsmanship. As the little transition proceeds, back comes the chugging and relentlessness led by the dissonance of guitars. Towards the end of the song comes what feels like radio static as if a transmission to being cut short. Yeah that’s cute.
swells in very quiet and soothingly and it feels like I’m walking around a ghost town of the future of some sort. A pummeled bass drum beat soon begins with weird vocaling techniques that remind me of Middle Eastern qualities. This song is very ambient and shorter then the usual for an Isis song. It gives off a very tribal feeling with the bass drum beat and low frequency keyboard synths. It doesn’t quite captivate me as much as many Isis songs though and that could be a problem considering this is a short song and a lot of the 10 minute bad boys by this band can have be on the floor. It just seems pretty unacceptable to me no matter how ambient and atmospheric it might come off being.
starts off slowly with a quiet chord being strummed, then progresses on, picking up pace towards the end. This is until it finally the song deconstructs into swirling frequencies. The titles to these songs play a large role in this band I feel because for the first time I actually feel like each title plays along into the song. This song starts off slowly as a construction of any structure would and gradually picks up it’s pace where you can almost see in your head a tower being built as the distorted guitars ring out. If your not one for the whole title > imagery > song construction thing you might just find yourself bored with this song. To be the art here is how the band can translate the song without any vocals to make me think of the tower being created again. Weird is when the yelled vocals come in at about the 5 minute mark how they planned things in making a song like this. A lot of electronic sounds come in around the same guitar part and really add some nice catches and hooks.
Celestial (Signal Fills The Void)
is a remix track which is one of the most intriguing ones off of this EP. The remix is done by Justin K Broadrick and is done fantastically. The track starts off with what appears to be stomping and grows into a repeated guitar phase with drums and bass swirling within. The remix itself is very poised with a lot of new bells and whistles. It blends very effectively with the bands original style and if anything- adds to it. Just like any other Isis song the guitar work is acres long with a lot of repetition and occasional hooks and variations. More ethereal sounding keyboards and the battering of drums are what really focuses inside the whole layered track itself. The little things that if you take time out for (the song is 10:22 long) you will notice the variation changes in bass, drums, and guitar… no matter how subtle or obvious they may be. The way the song deconstructs itself really makes this song feel like those English story plot charts that they teach you in high school. Introduction > Rising Action > Climax > Falling Action > Conclusion.
If you love bands like Neurosis and Pelican then the work of Isis should be no stranger to you. I hear a lot of words get thrown around to describe Isis but the one word that seems to be used the most is epic
. A lot of these tracks form the foundation of the next two Isis albums which IMO are the best work they’ve ever done and rightfully so with all the 4.5 & 5 ratings they have received. It took Isis a couple of EP’s to finally get that sound that makes them so loved and this was one of their last EP’s to really put the finalizing touches on that. With that being said I know a lot of people will think this rating doesn’t merit this album and some will think I undershot but it really all depends on who you are. If you enjoy the ambience and electronically goodies over repetition then you should be just at home with SGNL>05. If your someone who can’t get past the fact that the songs feel like their going no where then this might not be the type of album for you. As it isn’t a must have for most Isis fans it definitely adds on top of the good “Celestial” release and for hardcore fans finishes a story. I find it very respectable that Isis never changed their core sound for so long and their style.
+ Intricate layers of music with each dimension devoted attention too
- Not for the casual listener
- Beneath Below
Jeff Caxide – bass
Michael Gallagher – guitar
Aaron Harris – drums
Bryant Clifford Meyer – electronics, guitar
Aaron Turner – guitar, vocals
Release Date: March 6, 2001
Label as produced: Neurot Recordings