Review ·

So long have Isis issued their bombastic decrees from atop the post-metal mountain, so rotten are so many of the bands that mimic Isis’s guitar textures and titanic crescendos, that we forget how good they are. Not every one of their recent releases has reached the heights of Oceanic (2002), but we listen to them anyway. Isis remain standard bearers, and even the band’s missteps are worthwhile. While In the Absence of Truth (2006) felt weighted down by its own ponderousness, it was also a bold step forward in terms of melody, ambience and musicianship.

On Wavering Radiant, Isis reward us for continuing to listen. All the monster riffs and cobwebby guitar interplay and extended, crescendo-centric structures remain, but this time, they congeal into tight songs with clear intentions and a minimum of the pretense that saddled Isis in the past. Isis have overcome navel-gazing and star-watching, and settled on a confident stare straight into the eyes of their audience. Wavering Radiant aims not to humble and destroy. It wants to connect. 

Hence the bold major-key start to album opener “Hall of the Dead.” That signature 5/4 Isis flicker-chug positively glows, especially combined with the enriching presence of Cliff Meyer’s Fender Rhodes and electric organs, mixed with prog-rock closeness by new producer “Evil” Joe Barresi (Enslaved, the Melvins, Tool). Those warm keyboard tones melt the ice of Aaron Turner and Mike Gallagher’s frosty guitars on “Ghost Key.” The most obvious change on Wavering Radiant is how Turner’s come as a clean singer, and how Isis’s songs have grown to accommodate his singing voice. Who ever thought that an Isis record would be drenched in vocal harmonies? There Turner goes on “Stone to Wake a Serpent,” harmonizing with himself like two helium-treated Steve Brodskys, then harshing his own mellow a couple of minutes later with his spine-shattering growl.

More than any of these cosmetic changes, it’s the new approach to songwriting that makes the difference on Wavering Radiant. For the first time in a long while, all five members were living in the same place for the couple of years before the album’s completion. The opportunity for full-band writing and woodshedding sessions has paid off with songs that move with melody and purpose, and do things other than diddle around for a couple minutes and then smash planets with a huge-ass payoff. Big riffs are embroidered into “Hall of the Dead” and “Threshold of Transformation,” rather than coming as epic conclusions; watery bits build and expand on melodic themes where before they would just set moods.

Some may miss the danger of earlier Isis records, the bombastic swings between furrowed-brow lows and triumphant peaks. That’s far from gone, but the magic of Wavering Radiant is less about titanic riffs and more about how it sustains that edge-of-your-seat intensity throughout the eight-plus minute runtimes of each song. This is perhaps the first Isis album since Oceanic that both demands and inspires repeat listens. It might very well be Isis’s best work to date. At the very least, Wavering Radiant affirms that we still have good reason to follow the band's every move.

 

***

Band: http://www.isistheband.com

Label: http://www.ipecac.com

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/sgnl05

  • Hall Of The Dead
  • Ghost Key
  • Hand Of The Host
  • Wavering Radiant
  • Stone To Wake A Serpent
  • 20 Minutes / 40 Years
  • Threshold of Transformation

For their fifth full-length, post-metal pioneers Isis brought in producer Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, The Melvins) to grant the proceedings a slightly dirtier edge than their past efforts with Matt Bayles. Band interviews from before the album's release suggest a more orchestral feel, with more interplay among instruments than ever before. Also of note: with the addition of guitarist Adam Jones on two of Wavering Radiant's seven tracks, Isis have now featured half of the members of their former tourmates, Tool, on Isis studio albums. Whaddayasay you return the favor one of these days, eh, Tool?

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Amazing band!

Hood

not as good an album as the others by far. sounds like they are running out of inventive ideas. but there are a few good beats and riffs on there .
6/10 for me.
x

wispy

Been listening the album couple times now. Still don't know what to say. I feel kind of humble.
There is brilliance here. Genial structures.
Little bit too polished though (same thing as with the previous album). Maybe next time they'll go and use some of their "Red Sea" rawness.
"few good beats and riffs" ... "running out of ideas" - my arse.

right

not runnin' out of ideas, too polished humm maybe. but the vocals soar above the music. wich i guess is the general idea. good bands never want to sound the same. great bands taste new waters. this is what they've done. great album not their best but a good one none the less.

el boricua76

is not their best, but what a great album, in my personal opinion, soundscapes, heavy, riffs, clean voice and growls are amazing, better than in the last album that is not that good. Anyway, as said before, great bands reach for new horizons, so we cant expect another formula like oceanic or panopticon, this guys are evolving, and, for me, wavering radiant sounds like the logical, next and amazing step for them

ed

New album is very poor, absolutely dissapointing and boring. Nothing to say about it really.

homer

This album is pretty damn good. I like it way more than the other albums.

chaospheratic

really good album...
just getting into it...
good opener...
and i absolutely love 'threshold of transformation'... i can so hear the tool influence in there in the middle section of that song... legit badass stuff...

bleak46n2

I am very dissapointed to say I do not own this album. I have heard the samples, and I have heard most of the songs all the way through, and it is amazing. Apparently "homer" didn't get the message. Crack the Skye (mastodon) is better though, so that puts this one at second best album of the year in my book

Cheers

Mynameisnotaden

This record is blowing my mind by the 3rd listen. I'm a huge Isis fan, love the older stuff. This is dense and extremely well played. Love it. I don't get how people can dig Isis and not dig this...this is what they do! They slay with texture and ambience. Also, Aaron's clean vocals are way more confident and refined. For what they do, they are the best. Support them.

Anderson

Only dumb "their old material is better" elitists will shun this album. It seems that if a band tours with a popular group like Tool...and gets noticed more...oh they are not underground anymore! Nooo! Seriously...elitists need to get a grip, open up their minds for once and fully realize once and for all Isis evolve with every album. Their fairweather fans going in the opposite way of evolving is not Isis's fault, and it's not like they need idiots like you for fans anyways.

Alan

Its funny isis was just a neurosis rip off up until oceanic and their fans say the new stuff isnt original. Frankly isis' more melodic and subtle material soars over their heavy material( which i still love and think is an important part of the music SO DONT TALK **** SON!)

shane

Honestly, the only band I love more than ISIS is TOOL, and I love every freaking album to death. But this one... I dont know. Panopticon had to grow on me too but I'm just not hearing it. It's not intense like AOT, nor is it defeating like Celestial, nor massive like Oceanic, nor nearly as atmospheric as Panopticon, or purely brutal like MC. So, I guess that means I'm gonna love it in a few months like all the rest of 'em. ;) btw Neurosis blows, never was any comparison. Ever. Y'all crackheads.

Vietnow4611

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