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03.09.22 official sputnik retirement 08.05.20 My Favourite Male Artists
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03.21.19 7 years of sput08.12.18 A Non-Ranking of Converge
04.15.18 A Non-Ranking of Isis 08.16.17 EMO CROWN 2 - Rnd 1
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A Non-Ranking of Isis

It's simple: for each album, I'll try to sell you on why it's the best one in the discography.

In the words of a friend, this album is unnecessarily angry — and that’s why, within Isis’ discography, this alone satisfies the deep itch for something heavy. This is your go-to for your primal urges, but it’s far from mindless pots-and-pans bashing — “Swarm Reigns”, in all its fury and feedback, has its moments where the sandstorm abates and reveals a glistening desert. “Collapse and Crush” does the slow trudge with its desperation amped up to 11, and its every release of tension feels more hard-earned because of that. Celestial is Isis at their meanest and sludgiest; none of that wishy-washy atmospheric stuff. Take a stance and stand with the screeches, the pummels, the post-apocalyptic transitions.

Never again will you hear such austere beauty. Oceanic swells patiently, but not too patiently (cough Panopticon cough) — from the haunting murmurs of “The Beginning and the End” to “Weight” and its careful layering, Oceanic suspends you in waves that crest in slow motion. But when they do crash, they come down with more force than its peers will ever muster. It’s not brute strength, but rather an elegant calculus of push-pull, repeat-renew, and I daresay that after Oceanic, this calculus has never again been applied as well. Oceanic is opaque, twisting, and perhaps mostly importantly, seductive — not just because of the excellent use of female vocals to play the yin to Aaron Turner’s yang, but in the way that it never unfurls completely. With every listen you want to pull it apart; but it resists, and eventually you become further entangled within.

Panopticon is sagely, maybe even the Zen master of all Isis albums. Those who find it sleepy simply fail to grasp the purpose of its slow journey — it takes the long roads precisely because there’s more to actually see. “Wills Dissolve” almost seems to open on a fairy-tale note, such are its gentle, chiming 3-note motifs; behind the guitar hovers the pale light of synthesizers, illuminating the soundscape. Think of each minute as diving deeper into the waters, letting your mind shut up as all your sensory organs are overtaken by the surrounding environment. In the end, Panopticon, more than any other Isis album, induces serenity, perhaps even a sense of wholeness. It blooms from the bottom of your heart.
In the Absence of Truth

"Garden of Light" -- need I say more?  In all seriousness, I think this album is at risk of being characterised as scatterbrained, when in reality it's more of an intrepid explorer trekking in a mysterious dimension.  In the Absence of Truth moves cautiously, judiciously, testing out new ground only when it feels that it's safe; but as a whole it's enveloped by an unusual air, intriguingly foreign.  There's a pensive quality to its harmonies, a question mark with every measure, and these little mysteries embedded within the sprawling framework are what makes this album so rewarding in the end. And "Garden of Light", well, it's just too damn gorgeous -- tinged with Arabic influences, it's propelled by a jubilant energy, a resolution to every question raised previously.
Wavering Radiant

Wavering Radiant is a coruscating night sky. It's more light-filled and the most optimistic of its siblings, often soaring rather than brooding. It asserts itself confidently, almost as if it bore a relaxed grin, though "Hand of the Host" shows how a descent into darker, eerier territory is also supremely satisfying. And "20 Minutes/40 Years" -- how it peaks in such a heavenly way, a chorus of angelic background vocals swirling alongside jubilant guitar chords and synths that seem to radiate golden light. Wavering Radiant is for the victorious -- it carries triumph. It's also up to you to decide which force within it, dark or light, ultimately wins.
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