Review Summary: Isis' first DVD is an excellent representation of their powerful live show, and the closest thing you can get to seeing them live without leaving your house.
Isis has always held a special place in my heart. The Los Angeles via Boston progressive metal band has been consistently turning the rest of the heavy music community on its collective ear for the past seven years or so. Their 2004 release, Panopticon, changed the way I thought metal could be composed forever, and, nearly two years after first hearing it, it still remains my favorite album of any genre. Isis has easily deserved all of the hype they have received by critics and metal fans alike, the self-ascribed label of “thinking man’s metal” being unquestionably warranted. All of this heaped on praise may seem to be overzealous, but Isis stand nearly alone as one of the last truly innovative bands in the metal scene, so it goes without saying that I became extremely anxious upon hearing word of a possible live DVD release. Well, Clearing the Eye has finally arrived nearly a year after the original announcement of it’s creation. So, how did it turn out?
Clearing the Eye is absolutely fantastic. It is possibly the most enjoyable music DVD I have ever seen. Everything from the menu presentation to the packaging it comes in and the booklet that accompanies it is aesthetically pleasing. The background ambience for the menu screens sets a perfect mood for the disc, and the discography feature serves as a humbling experience to any fan thinking they might have even scratched the surface of Isis’ seemingly never ending underground remix and demo recordings. Even the music video for “In Fiction,” while most fans have probably already seen it, is presented beautifully here, much better than the streamed online version currently floating around the Internet. While all of these extra features are all well and good, the main attraction of this disc is, of course, the plethora of performance footage.
The live videos are of the same quality as the rest of this release: amazing. Clearing the Eye contains nearly career spanning material, dating from the band’s early 2001 performances from their Celestial tour, through the shows supporting 2002’s Oceanic, and, most impressive, live footage of nearly all of the tracks from the aforementioned Panopticon (the fifth track, “Syndic Calls,” is conspicuously absent). This material includes an entire set filmed on February 2, 2005 at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney, Australia of all places. This performance is worth the price of admission alone, as it features all of the songs from Panopticon (sans “Syndic “Calls” as previously mentioned) and two tracks off of Oceanic. The entire performance is professionally shot, featuring multiple camera angles, expert editing, and incredible visual clarity. The sound quality also deserves special mention, as it is crisp, clear, and brings all of the beauty and grandeur of Isis’ art right to the viewer’s living room. Clearing the Eye is the closest thing one can get to experiencing Isis’ powerful live presence without actually attending one of their shows.
Clearing the Eye is an essential purchase for fans of Isis, and a recommended viewing for casual fans looking to see if the quintet can actually recreate their incredible music in a live setting. While the recordings of the Celestial material are a little grainy, and “Syndic Calls” has been curiously omitted, Isis’ first DVD release is, in a word, stunning.