Review Summary: Probably the most amazing quality to this album is its ability to replicate an ocean. The heavy parts feel like the rough, unforgiving waves, and the softer passages like the gentle sea-water splashing at your toes.
Here we have ISIS
- An Avant-garde metal, Experimental rock, Post-metal, Psychedelic rock, Atmospheric sludge, 'whatever you call them' band. Now, my first experience with Isis was their latest record - In The Absence of Truth. I was impressed by what i was hearing, but i didn't believed in matched the hype surrounding this band. I decided to venture back to their past records which were both hailed as masterpieces - Oceanic and Panopticon. I immediately purchased both.
As soon as i received Oceanic, i gave the CD a listen. I thought i would be doing this album and Isis an injustice by not sharing my opinion. Here is a track by track review:
(1) The Beginning and the End
This song starts out with a nice drum groove accompanied by mildly-heavy guitar. At 0:35, Mono-tonal vocals kick in and the song becomes blisteringly heavy. The guitars becomes fierce, the vocals letting out a brutal, almost robotic yell. At 1:25, the song takes a complete U-turn. Everything becomes softer, more ambient, not to mention the vocals cut out. This part shows off Isis' trademark. The passage continues for a few minutes occasionally steering away to reveal its heaviness. This song becomes mesmerizing, almost hypnotic. The repetition of the instruments, the subtle changes to each one - It all builds and molds the atmosphere Isis creates with this song (and all of Oceanic, in fact). At 4:25, All instruments cut out except for guitar, which plays a subtle riff before being joined by the sheer onslaught of the rest of the band. Things become hectic, the vocals return again, Isis reveals some of their best musically here.
(2) The Other
This song begins on a softer note. It begins to build-up and grow as the intensity rises. At 1:50 we are again greeted by Aaron Turner and his guttural screams. The song becomes heavy, like it's predecessor, but this passage only continues for a short time, before returning to it's previous state of tranquility. This does not remain for very long, and we are again faced with the same heavy passage. This continues much longer than before and shows a great amount of dimension to Turner as a vocalist. The song then alternates between heaviness with vocals, and without. The song then ends on a heavy note.
(3) False Light
This song begins brutally heavy. and continues that way until 3:00 where the music takes a sudden stop and turn around to the more subtle, atmospheric passages we are quite familiar with. This song steadily continues this until 6:00 where the guitar takes in-front and leads the rest of the band into full-fledged chaos. At 7:00, The infamous Turner returns with his guttural screams and the song ends on this note.
A very mellow song from the beginning, Carry follows the classic Isis trademark and builds up slowly until 4:00 where everything becomes heavy, the vocals soon accompany and the song dives into uncharted-heavy-territory, but this time we find Turner with a female accomplice. Her subtle presence adds a great deal of depth and purpose to this simple song.
This track acts more like a rest than anything else. This track does not feature Isis playing whatsoever. In fact, it really isn't anything. Just an array of natural sounds. The track offers the listener some comfort and reflection on what they have just experienced, and what they are about to experience.
A track must like its predecessor. This track is actually quite different from the entire album in that it has a distinct electronic flavor to it. This song is relaxing, calm, gentle. The song has no real change in dynamics and retains a very soothing tone.
Now, this is where Isis return! A song very similar to 'Carry' in structure. However, this song is much more 'patient' in it's delivery. It steadily builds and grows until 8:33 where we are greeted by that female singer which we were introduced to in 'Carry'. She repeats a line that is lost and buried in the mix, her vocals are hypnotic, and as the music becomes heavier, you find yourself in a trance, unable to break free until the song comes to a sudden end.
(8) From Sinking
One of the heavier songs on Oceanic. It begins and ends on a heavy note. Throughout the song, there is mild contrast to the heaviness with soothing passages, but these are sparingly disposed of for heavier and more brutal passages, that tend to dominate this song.
The final track on the album. This song has more of a heavier tendency, but their is no shortage of softer parts. Overall, a fantastic end to the album. It shows diversity, and some of Isis' best songwriting yet. It is a good representation of what the listener has just experienced with Oceanic.
Words cannot describe the sheer beauty of this record. The majesty of Isis' instrumentation, the multi-dimension to Turner's seemingly mono-tonal voice, the way in which a unique atmosphere is created every single song.
Probably the most amazing quality to this album is its ability to replicate an ocean. The heavy parts feel like the rough, unforgiving waves, and the softer passages like the gentle sea-water splashing at your toes.
Do yourself a favor and buy this album. Experience this unique journey. Let Isis encompass your every senses and drag you out to sea. 5/5 = 10/10 = 100%
It's ability to be heavy, yet beautiful.