Monday, November 27, 2006

My First Review: Isis At Your Location

Nominally, my first contribution to ÜberDrivel was to be a joint review with our esteemed founder, Roland.

So, we both queued up Joanna Newsom's Ys and went at it. Neither of us liked it.

The next try was Charlotte Gainsbourg's 5:55. That was better, but still nothing wonderful. Both of us are big believers in omens (I still have nightmares about the day I lost my rabbit's foot), so that was unusable, too.

Hence, this conversation:

UberDrive: it might be better if you wrote about whatever you've enjoyed lately, no matter what genre
UberDrive: (I've got some live Isis and/or Mastodon I could throw up there...)
Arivia: Okay, sure, I'll do the new Isis. (Not a big Mastodon fan.)

Hence, this review: Isis' In The Absence of Truth.

For those of you new to the post-rock party, Isis is one of the more metallic tentacles of the genre, more established in metal circles than the musical world as a whole. Arguably, they weren't even post-rock when they started off, instead belonging to yet another "random adjective + metal" subgenre, sludge metal. No matter which side of that issue you stand on, Isis have grown from something caustic and twisted into a careful, deliberate entity concerned far more with turns of thematics and mood than bashing your head in.

In The Absence Of Truth is the culmination of this development, resulting in long pieces where the metallic structures of old still exist, but are now endangered and carefully pad throughout, with long stretches of calm and meditation between each sighting. "Over Root And Thorn" is a good example of this, spending 4:15 building up to two strums of a distorted guitar, then flying past and beyond into frontman Aaron Turner's lamentations, which flow into a metallic pattern of tidal riffs, ebbing and swelling into careful cymbal crashes. Here is the purest of post-rock: it's minimalist, mostly instrumental, and completely haunting, but contains just the perfect balance for all those interested in the genre.

For those wondering whether the tour with Tool had any effect on this album, I ask you this: Do you know Tool like the back of your hand? Did you listen to Panopticon? The closer to "yes" on the first, and the closer to "no" on the second, the more you will hear of Tool in this release: you can read whatever you'd like into it. Either way, Isis have created something wonderful for all comers.

Postscript: If you like post-rock, but haven't explored the more metallic members of the genre, Cult of Luna and Neurosis are the other forerunners. For a real challenge, try The Ocean.

Buy Isis Music: Here

1 comment:

Roland said...

Hey, thanks for getting this up so quickly; I'll try to check out this album at some point...and maybe throw up some live stuff as well.

Re: 5:55: I'll definitely do my own review later in the week, along with some thoughts regarding The Science of Sleep, as promised.

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