Isis
Celestial


4.5
superb

Review

by johnny of the Well USER (41 Reviews)
July 24th, 2012 | 26 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A ferocious, punishing listen, that takes a while to really reward

Isis are known today for their expansive and organic sound that is best displayed on records such as Panopticon. This sound is immersive and relaxing; even when it's at its heaviest it still seems as though it is a work of art, not a scathing display of brutality, and there is an emphasis on atmosphere and evolution within songs towards a cumulation. Celestial basically takes this formula and inverts it, so if you think that you understand Isis and haven't heard this, or anything before it, then you're in for a shock.

The key to Isis' future albums is evolution (in the form of their spectacular build-ups), but the key to Celestial is groove. The album is built on simplicity and combines slow, minimalistic riffs with Aaron Turner's unintelligible, furious screamed vocals. The result is an album so crushingly heavy and so devastatingly powerful that it may seem virtually unlistenable at first, and its raw, primal sound does take a while to get used to. Remember Lexicon from Neurosis' Enemy of the Sun? Think of a slightly simplified version of that song, and you've more or less got Celestial.

The appeal of Celestial is rather hard to describe, since it is ugly, repetitive and almost vindictively inaccessible. It is not an album that is enjoyed, it is experienced, and that experience is so hellishly angry that - on paper - it should reward the album with absolutely no listeners or fans. The only explanation I can find for the way Celestial appeals to me is that it works in the same way that Isis' other albums do: as a work of art. It may be a misshapen pile of rubble in musical form, but it succeeds so well in being one that it has no problems with enticing the listener just as well as Isis' more accesible material.

The most distinctive track is easily C.F.T. (New Circuitary and Continued Evolution), which is a gentle reprieve from the brutality of the other songs, repeating a clean melody that soothes the listener and adds some much-needed variety, since there is not a huge amount to differentiate the other tracks. There are two others that stand out (in terms of composition, not quality) though; Deconstructing Towers is a slightly more up-tempo instrumental that includes an extended breakdown which utilizes feedback/harmonics/unrefined noise contrasted with crushing low notes, with the result that it somehow manages to sound even more raw and destructive than the rest of the album. As well as this, Celestial (The Tower) has a long clean section that shows the album at its must melodic (excluding C.F.T.). It is worth noting that most clean sections (such as Glisten) are just as ugly and aggressive as their heavy counterparts, due to their rough tone and crude feel.

Overall, Celestial is the soundtrack to a collapsing tower and sounds just as violent as this image; you can take it on its own terms or listen to something less unforgiving. However, if you are prepared to endure the musical onslaught of songs like Swarm Reigns (Down) and Deconstructing Towers, then you may well find yourself on a trip that you are unlikely to forget any time soon.

Pros
Raw power/brutality
Good mix of 'clean' and heavy sections
Very consistent

Cons
Inaccessible
Most tracks are fairly similar (not a hugely bad thing though)
Isis never revisited this sound

Top 5
1. Swarm Reigns (Down)
2. Celestial (The Tower)
3. C.F.T. (New Circuitary and Continued Evolution)
4. Glisten
5. Collapse and Crush



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Comments:Add a Comment 
johnnydeking29
July 24th 2012


9458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Imo this is really overlooked in their discog, just coz it's different doesn't mean not worth checking out

Digging: Warren of Ohms - The Wolf and The Fox

ProfessorVeerappan
July 24th 2012


792 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this their 1st work to understand Isis 1 has to literally electrocute the shit out of him/her self get stoned as fuck and emerge out of the storm
to understand pure music in its rawest as fuck form

indeed a mad album GG review.

evilford
July 24th 2012


22946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album rules. Someone negged this review? I thought it was decent.

johnnydeking29
July 24th 2012


9458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I probs said too much about how brutal it is, or maybe someone just hates the album

Relinquished
July 24th 2012


25583 Comments


"Pros
Raw power/brutality"

i mean that's up to the person listening to decide you can't add that to the pro's list

YoYoMancuso
July 24th 2012


11189 Comments


great review but i could never dig this

Shuyin
July 24th 2012


11980 Comments


its still a decent review tho.

sad part is that i still cant get into this album

johnnydeking29
July 24th 2012


9458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Relinquished maybe I should have left the brutality out, but the power here is pretty obvious

Relinquished
July 24th 2012


25583 Comments


yeah it's pretty loud... sound power is up



"Isis never revisited this sound"

so what's BAD about THIS album is that OTHER albums of theirs weren't this heavy or raw?

CaptainDooRight
July 25th 2012


30251 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sup Johnny

Good review pos bro

PistolPete
July 25th 2012


3644 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Intro to "Deconstructing Towers" needs to be played as loud as a pair of speakers can go.

I always found "Hall of the Dead" and the title track on this a bit samezeez, they both do that weird nifty quick little riff thang (chug-chug chug-chug chug-a-chug chug-a-chug iunno i can't describe it that's the best i can dooooo)

Digging: Skyharbor - Guiding Lights

PistolPete
July 25th 2012


3644 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's it you nailed it man, dat's the similarity right thuuurrr!

They are both good songs, but that would probably explain why I like both.

mindleviticus
July 25th 2012


8326 Comments


fookin sweet album


PistolPete
July 25th 2012


3644 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That and "Hall of das Dead" also has a climax it builds to which makes me saturate my pants every time I hear it.

mindleviticus
July 25th 2012


8326 Comments


hall of the dead is an amazing song much like the rest Wavering Radiant

KILL
July 25th 2012


72131 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sweet

Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

conesmoke
July 25th 2012


5278 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is an awesome review. I havn't heard this one yet, it sounds excellent.

MichaelSnoxall
July 25th 2012


12163 Comments


Great album. I liked their EPs before this more though.

Wizard
July 25th 2012


19616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good to see a review for this, reminds us all that Isis were a far heavier band back in the day. Good job with the review.

Digging: Hans Zimmer - Interstellar

evilford
July 25th 2012


22946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

they weren't that much less heavy on Absence and Wavering I don't think. just less direct and more spacy



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