Sunday, April 18, 2010

Panopticon - Isis (#3, 2004)

Is it metal? Some call it "post-metal." Isis doesn't bring the riffs or the leads or the rhythms that hallmark true metal. They warp and draw them out. They do pummel, though - sometimes... For this album, All Music Guide references Jeremy Bentham and Michael Foucault (for the concepts), Slint and Neurosis (for the influences),
"Pink Floyd's velvet atmospherics" and "the haze of guitars and electronics" (for the sounds).

Most everyone will point you to the previous Oceanic (2002), but this was my first Isis and I prefer it. In fact, I believe this is the specific album that introduced me to the now sounds to new metallic genre musics - which I've delved into somewhat further since. Their last one (#3, 2009) might now be my favorite at this point though. If you don't Lala, here's a whole album playlist on YouTube (individual songs below).

"So Did We" from Panopticon (2004)

I've always considered this a big fan favorite, although I don't know any real Isis fans. Maybe I'm just thinking of me...

"Backlit" [live] from Panopticon (2004)

European television is so cool. How many 10-minute live set-closing versions of album cuts do you think Isis has performed on U.S. tv in the five years since this? Zero? Negative one? After the slightly more consistently heavy opener, this slightly more atmospheric two-punch stakes out the territory's borders - a bit. Lyrically, this one most clearly touches on the theme of surveillance: "Always object, never subject... We are watching... Light is upon you, life in you ceases."

"In Fiction" from Panopticon (2004)

Official hit-edit-version video for the big single, such as it is/was. Good entry point, as it eases in more. Although I think pretty much all of these are rock-solid A+ material.

"Wills Dissolve" from Panopticon (2004)

This one's been a regular in more recent shows' setlists in Japan, although "Backlit" was being thrown in for European shows back a few months. The Houston show (#5 Live Show of 2009) featured "In Fiction."

"Syndic Calls" from Panopticon (2004)

Still with me? I know... at first it might feel like a marathon - long songs, similar palette of sounds, occasional sprawl. Some, if not most, of the albums I really love almost require owning. So you can take time and really inhabit them, learn the ins and outs, navigate the details. This is a great song, especially after concentrated exposure to tracks 1-3.

"Altered Course" from Panopticon (2004)

An instrumental, especially good if you need a break from Aaron Turner's bellowing. Quite a pleasant vibe... I mean, quite a pleasant METAL vibe!!

"Grinning Mouths" [live] from Panopticon (2004)

My interests include martial drumming progressions, prickly lead guitar tones, and extended intro sections... The second half is pretty sweet too.

Panopticon 2xLP

Genre - Thinking Man's (Post-) Metal
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Los Angeles, CA

Review - Dusted Magazine
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Lala - Panopticon
Purchase - Hydra Head Records [2xLP]

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