Review Summary: It may not be as emotionally engaging or complex as their later albums, but Isis' debut certainly proves how they are a force to be reckoned with
When it comes to consistency, many bands only wish they could reach the level that Isis established. Over the course of their quality over quantity career, they truly have never released a bad LP, or even one that could only be called good. Every album had a different sound to delve into, with each of them showing off a well-rounded combination of elegance and heaviness. However, every band has to start somewhere and the band certainly delivered with Celestial
. Despite this claim, it’s as if all of the puzzle pieces have yet to fall into place here. Their debut may not be as imaginative or as genuinely emotional as the rest of the sublime albums that come after, but the charisma certainly shows without a doubt. Incredibly riff driven and brooding, Celestial
definitely serves as the shape of the passionate music to come.
Right off the bat, the title track displays how the album will be more focused on riffs and heaviness. Make no mistake that the latter part of the song gives off a beautiful, spacey vibe, but most of the song is one memorable guitar riff after another. Plus, Aaron Turner’s harsh vocals prove to be in top form here. They may not be as beastly as his later vocals, but his rasp driven scream and raw cleans get the job done exceptionally well. While this song leaves the most immense lasting impression, the album’s true closer acts as another highlight. The ironically titled “Gentle Time” builds itself upon numerous memorable riffs just like the title track and it all leads up to a thrilling end. As evidenced by these two songs, Isis have quite the exceptional ability going on here. They show off the band’s sludgy heaviness remarkably well, but make no mistake that their signature slowdowns of elegance appear quite frequently here to quite the enjoyable effect.
“C.F.T(New Circuitry and Continued Evolution) serves as one of the band’s slowest songs to date, with it continuously building upon a repetitious groove from every player. The drumming is slow yet steady and the bass paves the way along with the gentle spacey atmosphere. The entire song is a breath of fresh air due to a subtle climax and catchy instrumentation. Meanwhile, the other more pleasant parts are scattered throughout the entire record. Amidst the instrumentation that live up to the song name “Collapse and Crush,” the guitar work soar high in the atmosphere and Aaron Turner’s vocals juxtapose quite nicely with the significantly less heavy vibe. The same can be said for Swarm Reigns(Down) because of its chilling interlude of gentle guitar work and distant sound effects that keep the listener wondering where it’s heading. It then explodes into a frenzy on hard hitting vocals. Though these slower sections certainly grow to hold incredible emotional power with the band’s age, the juxtaposition between the gentle atmosphere and metal is nonetheless welcome here.
With the exception of the unnecessary blaring guitar feedback and uninteresting repetition in “Deconstructing Towers,” for the most part there are not many bad moments on here. It’s a well composed debut throughout the entire thing. Granted, Jeff Caxide’s signature vibrant sound with the bass has yet to come into play and Aaron Harris’ drumming ability strengthens in technicality and complexity overtime. Not to mention the extra layer of ethereal atmosphere is mostly absent here, but everything works nonetheless. The band’s most hard hitting tracks such as “Glisten” provide head banging fun and Aaron Turner’s vocals are immaculately performed. Celestial
essentially serves as the blueprint for everything to come, with many aspects of this album that are already great being perfected overtime.