Not quite pop, but close. Isis return with their biggest and best record to date.
Isis: Wavering Radiant – Album of the Week
To some extent this is Isis‘ gone soft record. But that aint a bad thing as it’s almost certainly their most progressive; huge walls of guitars (both soaring and thrashing) are, as always, present, but there’s also vast banks of electronic keys (check Clifford Meyer‘s influence on the last four minutes of opener Hall of the Dead), beautifully treated guitars recalling the likes of latter-day Tool jamming with Dave Gilmour and for the first time Aaron Turner interlinks his gnarly growls with a whole raft of clean, tempered vocal harmonies in some kind of schitzophrenic one-man duet.
As is standard, all tracks break the seven minute barrier, save for the one-minute title track interlude, but there’s barely a second wasted as chasms are built and destroyed and built back up again in a show of devastating epic power.
The first half of 20 Minutes/ 40 Years is a throbbing grind before splintering into echo-laden guitars, reverberating white-noise and slow, hard smacks from Aaron Harris‘ kit.
Likewise on Ghost Key Michael Gallagher employs Floyd-like towering guitar for three golden minutes before Turner breathes further life into the track with a succession of incomprehensible vocal attacks until granite-like riffs collide with church organ and a rhythmic battering ram.
On an album littered with highlights and nuances to pour over, the 10-minute Hand of the Host is perhaps the most effective of all with Turner adopting an impression of all people – Ian Brown, in his early-Stone Roses heydey before slamming into character throat-ripping his way alongside steely bass and crystalised guitars. The circular motion continues until the seven minute mark where Gallagher strips proceedings down into a horrific chill of subtle ambience, recalling his work as MGR, before the whole piece is wrapped up with clinical, savage, piercing guitar jerks.
For the established fanbase there’s plenty to thrill, but Wavering Radiant is the sound of Isis, seemingly – impossibly – sounding even bigger and better than ever before.
For fans of: Snakes, Porcupine Tree, long distance running.
Isis: Wavering Radiant Studio Footage
Isis: Ghost Key