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Rating:
9.1
Isis - Wavering Radiant
5 May 2009


01. Hall Of The Dead
02. Ghost Key
03. Hand Of The Host
04. Wavering Radiant
05. Stone To Wake A Serpent
06. 20 Minutes / 40 Years
07. Threshold Of Transformation
08. Way Through Woven Branches [Japanese bonus]


Many people think that Isis is a band in constant evolution that explores even further what is apparently yet avant-garde. With a strong sludge basis they move in the territory of post and alternative rock with the constant progression of a journey started only five studio records ago.

It's probably a right point of view, but I prefer to consider Isis a band with many souls, with each soul struck in a different music style, and in constant search of internal equilibrium.
Heavy metal/sludge, experimental and post-rock, progressive, post-core/noise and, last but not least, the alternative rock are the main souls behind the band, but many more are present and can be found in their records. None of them get predominance compared to the others.
In each record, one of these souls prevails and its victory is rewarded with the opportunity to expand its boundaries and experiment in its own jurisdiction.
Using this point of view their whole career looks like a quest for a perfect equilibrium, if such a thing has sense.

Wavering Radiant is the new chapter in this quest. As the previous chapters, so does this one contain everything that has been achieved in the past episodes and, as always, offers something new as well. This time Isis has reached a better equilibrium than before giving birth to a very complex sounding record.
The metal attitude is back again among the main styles, well mixed with some experimental rock ("Hall Of The Dead", "Hand Of The Host"). Post rock landscapes alternate the sludgy power of metal riffs in many tracks ("Ghost Key", "20 minutes/40 Years"), but this side of the music is a bit less emphasised than before. The record goes on alternating almost all the styles that made Isis so great, with a particular emphasis on the metal one ("Threshold Of Transformation"). The main improvement of Wavering Radiant is a larger use of synthesizers, that often recall the progressive and psychedelic sound of the 70's ("Stone To Wake A Serpent").
It's noteworthy that any track has it's own leading style but shares all the component of the record as well, so that any track is some sort of summary of the whole record, just with a particular stress on some aspects of it.

All in all this is the heaviest record Isis have made so far, even if it's not really innovative, and it's the first time ever that the progressive rock attitude is among the leaders of an Isis record, together with the metal one. Fan of the lighter sound of Isis (Panopticon overall) may feel a bit concerned about this record, but those who loved Oceanic and were bored by the alternative touch (particularly at the vocals) that partially ruined In The Absence Of Truth will find this a must have.

Two thumbs up, masterpiece!

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Production: 8


Band profile: Isis
Album: Wavering Radiant


 


written by pdepmcp | 19.12.2009


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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benvolent - 19.12.2009 at 13:34  
If I got you right you deny that old isis-chliche of the constantly evolving avantgarde-band, to a certain point? If so, good point! I never understood, why people think, that there is such a huge difference between their albums.
To me it seems like a variation on two, maximum three themes, in a classical sense. Their music overall has a circular spirit, so to say. It's easy to experience that in their live performance, when you feel how naturally the older songs combine with the new stuff. Could be all of one big album... a big masterpiece.
Very careful but good review!
pdepmcp - 04.01.2010 at 11:34  
Yes, since Oceanic they principally did variations on some main themes. I think there are more then 3, but it's just a point of view.
Of course there is some innovation in every record too, but not enough to call it avantgarde anymore: they are evolving, not experimenting.
I agree with you about the feeling of older and newer songs in the live shows.
Entropic Silence - 10.07.2010 at 13:49  
This is a really fantastic review. I love that you've completely deconstructed and summarized Isis' music and applied your theories to this album - hell of an interesting read.

My personal favourite Isis album - it seems more clearly articulated than any of their work since Oceanic, with the same weight and power. but they've kept the gentler, subtler touches. It's gorgeous.
pdepmcp - 14.07.2010 at 12:02  
Written by Entropic Silence on 10.07.2010 at 13:49

This is a really fantastic review. I love that you've completely deconstructed and summarized Isis' music and applied your theories to this album - hell of an interesting read.

My personal favourite Isis album - it seems more clearly articulated than any of their work since Oceanic, with the same weight and power. but they've kept the gentler, subtler touches. It's gorgeous.


Thank you Entropic Silence.
I agree with you, this is my favorite Isis release too.
adace1 - 30.12.2011 at 08:54  
Just an outstanding album. Every time I listen to it, I miss Isis all the more. Great review too/

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