Sorry for digging up this review. I only just got into this band a year ago after I saw them open for Tool. Just wanted to say that this is a great album, though it doesn't touch Oceanic and Panopticon, in my honest opinion.
/random bump and useless opinion.
yea, while the review is unearthed, might as well give my two cents...this album, like all isis albums, is incredible. the vocals and drumming are the two points that seem to be drastically altered from their previous albums, but in a good coherent way. the drumming seems far more tribal, and obviously if you can't tell how the vocals have changed, you are clearly not an isis fan to begin with.
i am SO pissed and sad though, because when i went to the TOOL/ISIS show last year, my friend was running late from san diego on a train...and i fucking missed isis waiting for her, since i had her ticket and there were no ins-and-outs. fuck that, such a bummer. but TOOL was infuckingcredible, as always.
Isis > Tool
With their latest release, In the Absence of Truth, progressive metal gods Isis have worked out still more of the tiny chinks in their formidable armor. Each release has seen the band develop an aspect of their sound that could use some fine-tuning. In the Absence of Truth finds vocalist Aaron Turner with a voice that almost begs to be listened to instead of his former penchant for forcing the listener to tune him out. Within the next two to three albums, Turner could actually proved to be downright listenable and may be featured more prevalently throughout each track, but for now, a more satisfying presence is more than most Isis fans could ever ask for.
Turner's vocal changes aren't the only things Isis has turned around for the better. Their songs seem more fully-formed than on their previous albums, as well. While that may not necessarily be true, something has to account for the relative brevity of this album, even as it runs to typical Isis-ian length. It still clocks in at "way fucking longer than most other albums," but it plays like a sturdy fifty-minute LP instead of the monolith of sound its true length implies. Instead of tending towards droning into oblivion, Isis holds the listener in rapt attention the whole time. That's a large step forward, as it should help to draw those on the outskirts of Isis fan-dom to finally break the line.
Of course, accessibility has never been a goal for the band, so, as I tend to do with all things Isis and Neurosis related, I may be missing the point here. I'm sure the band read some really weighty scientific research and decided to write an album around the awesome and life-changing viewpoints it's opened them to, but I, for one, could give two shits about where a band is coming from, whether they break away from vapid lyricism or choose to write songs about how their mom told them they'd amount to nothing. I don't care that this album is twenty times more interesting when you know what the lyrics are about. For fuck's sake, you can barely make intelligible the roars of one Aaron Turner.
Thankfully, for all the thought the band puts into coming up with ideas for the music, the music itself does not seem obtusely self-indulgent or over-thought and never loses the more emotional edge that is so pertinent to the band's stranglehold on the listener. Isis never really gets caught up in its own intelligence, never comes across as pretentious, when recording their albums and, for that, I think them, as too many bands too often become too self-absorbed by their brilliance to write a song anyone else would actually desire to hear.
The simple fact is this: In the Absence of Truth is, musically speaking, Isis's most compelling work to date and that is saying something for a band that's never truly disappointed in the musical arena. All their work in other projects has also finally seeped into the band's sound, making them a much more intriguing band and opening new avenues in which the band can further explore their musical thoughts and views. With these newfound sources for channeling their creativity, Isis will surely continue to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
While I may not care what gives this band inspiration, what they have done so far is worthy of note and has worked thus far. In that respect, I hope they never lose that interest in things I have no interest in, so that they may continue to make records that astound me, as well as their many listeners worldwide. If you're as heady as Isis, I'm sure that makes you doubly as excited for future efforts. There really is no wrong answer as long as you find yourself captivated by Isis's remarkable performances thus far.