|An initial bout of musical experimentation in the fall of 1997 is attended by favorable circumstances and results in the formation of ISIS-the core members of which are Jeff Caxide (bass), Aaron Turner (guitars/vocals) and Aaron Harris (drums). Various lineup shifts ensue before and during the recording of their debut EP, Mosquito Control (Escape Artist) and follow-up EP, The Red Sea (Second Nature). By the summer of 1999, the current ISIS lineup has taken shape with the addition of guitarist Mike Gallagher (ex-Cast Iron Hike) and electronics coordinator Cliff Meyer (ex-The Gersch). A triumphant tour with space rock sorcerers Cave In establishes ISIS' national presence, a position soon capitalized upon by a brief but fulfilling campaign with extremity experts Neurosis.
The millennium would see ISIS back out on the road (with Candiria and Dillinger Escape Plan) and in the studio recording their debut full-length, Celestial (Escape Artist, released summer 2000) and companion EP, Sgnl>05 (Neurot Recordings, released spring 2001), the latter of which includes a remix courtesy of industrial grandsire Justin Broadrick of Godflesh. The two releases remain landmarks in the ISIS catalog, leagues ahead of previous efforts both sonically and conceptually. Indeed, for those who took the time to immerse themselves in the attendant semiotics of the two records, the rewards were many. Celestial was not merely heavy for heavy's sake; it revealed the highly detailed and often subtle nature of ISIS' aural and visual blueprints-Sgnl>05 was an even more ambient extension of these latent aesthetics.
Spring 2001 brought the now infamous tour with Keelhaul and newly reformed sludge parsons Eyehategod, followed by support slots for UK grind titans Napalm Death and a summer headlining tour with Swiss hardcore machinists Knut and enfant terrible Joe Preston, a.k.a. Thrones. It is during this period of prolific cross-country excursion that ISIS' national exposure nears its apex.
With the pale seasons at hand, fall and winter 2001 commenced a brief hibernation period during which most of the music that would become Oceanic was written. Whereas Celestial was the culmination of past efforts, a full realization of ISIS' collective talents, Oceanic is the re-envisioning of that ideal, striking a balance between gravity and complexity, achieving a dynamic equilibrium through the sharpening and honing of harmonic elements. Featuring texturally enhancing guest performances from Ayal Naor and Maria Christopher of 27, Oceanic is clarity through understatement; total conceptual and atmospheric control via the harnessing of hydraulic and instrumental inspiration. Paring back the density of previous releases to reveal a more articulated melodic infrastructure, Oceanic is highly meditative and perceptually abstract, vaguely hallucinatory and eminently contemplative. Due out on Ipecac Recordings in September, it is a striking testament to ISIS' ongoing evolution.