Sunday, June 24, 2007

Doors To Fire

Isis – Celestial

On the hearty recommendation of some drunk dude at the Isis concert I made an effort to pick up a few of their older albums. Celestial is their first full length release, and while it's good it doesn't live up to the standard set by their later albums.

Panopticon, In the Absence of Truth and to a lesser degree Oceanic all consist of flawlessly arranged compositions that ebb and flow from moody ambience to powerful, crushing climaxes. The songs on Celestial on the other hand are a more just a collection of great riffs strung together. Awesome, passionately delivered riffs mind you, but at this stage in the band's career their songwriting craft hadn't matured into their later brilliance.

Lest I damn this album unfairly by comparing it to the masterpieces that succeeded it, I must note that there is no denying the awesomeness of the title track, specifically it's kick arse opening riff and the spacey ambient outro. There are plenty of great moments to be found on this album, just not as many as on their later ones and not as sublimely composed.

Isis – The Red Sea

Curiously enough if we go back in time a bit further to one of their earliest EP releases we're back into the realm of total brilliance. The Red Sea differs a lot in style to their later albums, being far heavier and just generally more metal. The opening track, 'Charmicarmicarmicat Shines to Earth', is a doom metal song almost like something Sunn O))) or Boris would do. The rest of the album finds Isis on more familiar territory but with a fiery anger not found on their later albums. The songs are nowhere near as complex or dynamic as their later work, but nonetheless if all you want is music that rocks out like a motherfucker then you can't go wrong with this one.

I still wouldn't rank this EP as highly as Panopticon or In the Absence of Truth, but it still comes with the Wildebeest Asylum guarantee of awesomeness.

Celestial is worthwhile, but not essential. However it must be respected for marking the turning point at which Isis changed from talented but derivative purveyors of sludge metal to being one of the greatest bands in the world and for more or less creating the entire genre of post metal.

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