Abandoning their love affair with one-word album titles, Isis
have once again turned a tonal corner for In The Absence Of
Truth. A darker, murkier listen against 2004’s
Panopticon, the latest from the Californian five-piece has
an unsure quality to it, mysterious and foreboding, placing their
crystalline tones in a context of darkness rather than light.
Expectedly, the record is heavier. There are some
metal breakdowns right out of Tool’s playbook (a strange
coincidence that they shared a tour), but that sludgy aspect of
Isis’ sound is never dirge-like here, but usually has a more
uplifting, active movement and purpose. They don’t shy away from
indulging in their trademark instrumentals, however, with
shrouded pieces like “Firdous e Bareen” and “All Out Of Time, All
Into Space” utilizing electronics not yet explored by the band.
The listening experience can be slightly unsettling in
light of Isis’ rather beautiful and lush arrangements—progressions
aren’t explored in the same classicist elocution of their previous
endeavors, but rather tonal ideas tend to spread across In The
Absence Of Truth construction’s, like hearing a maze. Its mist
lends itself to less precision, despite its obvious deliberateness.
There is a concept, or more likely several intertwining
concepts, present, though exactly what it is remains a matter of
dispute. Holiness and lies are all central themes, but exactly what
band leader Aaron Turner had in mind will likely stay open-ended
By all measures, In The Absence Of Truth is
breathtaking. It is a hard notion to follow up such triumphs as
Panopticon and Oceanic with deft and skill while
still growing, yet the band have managed to. How it rates on
personal scales is entirely a fan matter, but it will rate high on
critical scales for the year.
In A Word: Foggy