Review Summary: Almost haunting in its beautiful complexity.
After listening to this album countless of times through and through, I've come to a solid conclusion that Wavering Radiant is indeed the most essential album in Isis' discography. This album is absolutely necessary. With exemplary titles already under their belts, post-metal juggernauts Isis have willingly run into a corner, and are determined to make a last stand with one last record before their inevitable breakage.
As many would agree, Isis' 2004 outing Panopticon
was arguably their best effort to date. Beautiful compositions such as 'So Did We' and 'In Fiction' shot Isis straight to the top the underground metal scene. However, the band saw a slight decline in quality with the 2006 release of In the Absence of Truth. This album didn't necessarily bring anything new to the table, and no standout songs really beat any of the lower-end tracks from the previous record. Though a disappointing release, this shortcoming was quickly overlooked by what was yet to come. Enter Wavering Radiant, their penultimate record that would soon change the way post-metal was seen for years to come.
Clocking at just over 55 minutes, Wavering Radiant
is a journey best taken straight from beginning to end. Opener 'Hall of the Dead' brings forth an eerie vibe and fantastically sets the mood for the album. Brazen guitars and forward-thinking drums propel this song forward, urging the listener to continue until the conclusion. The stark heaviness from track 1 is also shared by track 6, '20 minutes / 40 Years'. The deep crushing bass lines and revolving guitar tones are enough to make one's head spin, accompanied with an extremely well-done music video to boot.
Though the album may be Isis' heaviest outing yet, the record also displays a myriad of ambiance, no doubt further solidifying their grand knowledge of sound manipulation. Stand out tracks of this style include 'Ghost Key' and album closer 'Threshold of Transformation'. Beautiful leads and swirling tones accompany track 2 with grace and precision, all the while showing its ferocity like two sides of a coin. Though all tracks are wonderful in their own right, the final track of the album is in a realm all of its own. 'Threshold of Transformation' testifies that Isis isn't going down without a fight, and the song's masterful buildup and soul-crushing ending prove exactly that. It simply is a masterpiece to behold, and the final chorus is enough to bring a tear to my eye.
Often overshadowed by previous release Panopticon
, many argue that Wavering Radiant
shudders in comparison, though I say otherwise. Panopticon
was its own release, and it's had its day. Isis' latest release deserves your full attention and gratitude. Let this album grow on you. Soak in every melody and appreciate what art is in its truest from. Once every crushing beat has you mesmerized, every pluck of the string has you hooked, I guarantee you'll never want to go back.