ISIS — Celestial

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ISIS - Celestial cover
3.58 | 10 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 2000

Tracklist


1. SGNL>01 (00:55)
2. Celestial (The Tower) (09:42)
3. Glisten (06:34)
4. Swarm Reigns (Down) (06:01)
5. SGNL>02 (00:51)
6. Deconstructing Towers (07:30)
7. SGNL>03 (00:34)
8. Collapse and Crush (05:55)
9. C.F.T. (New Circuitry and Continued Evolution) (05:42)
10. Gentle Time (07:02)
11. SGNL>04 (End Transmission) (01:06)

Total Time 51:52

Line-up/Musicians


- Aaron Turner / guitar, vocals
- Michael Gallagher / guitar
- Jeff Caxide / bass
- Aaron Harris / drums
- Bryant Meyer/ electronics, guitar, vocals

About this release

CD released 19th July 2000 on Escape Artist (EA 7.0 / EA 7.7), reissued in 2001.

CD released 2000 in Europe on Hydra Head Europe (HH666-59).

12" vinyl 2LP released 31st August 2000 on Escape Artist (EA 7.1), limited to 1100 copies:

- 110 translucent blue / opaque light blue
- 440 translucent orange / opaque yellow
- 550 black/black

12" vinyl 2LP released 2nd May 2001 on Escape Artist (EA 7.1), limited to 501 copies:

- 1 pink/pink
- 250 opaque red / opaque orange (AB/CD)
- 250 opaque orange / opaque red (AB/CD)

12" orange (gold) translucent vinyl 2LP released 10th June 2002 on Escape Artist (EA 7.1), limited to 500 copies.

12" vinyl 2LP released 2007 on Conspiracy Records (CORE051), limited to 1500 copies:

- black vinyl: 1000 copies
- orange marbled vinyl: 200 copies
- red/black marbled vinyl: 300 copies

CD released 3rd September 2013 on Ipecac Recordings.

12" vinyl 2LP released 3rd September 2013 on Robotic Empire (ROBO-105), limited to 2000 copies:

300 "swarm yellow" (yellow with black splatter)
300 "sun yellow" (transparent yellow)
300 "marbled yellow" (opaque marbled yellow)
1100 on black

12" vinyl 2LP repressed 2017 on Robotic Empire (ROBO-105), limited to 200o copies:

300 gold/lack
300 clear with brown splatter
1400 on black

Recorded and mixed at The Outpost in January / February 2000.
Mastered at M-Works in February 2000.

Thanks to The Angry Scotsman, bartosso, Bosh66 for the updates

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ISIS CELESTIAL reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
No, not the Middle East terrorist group or the Egyptian Goddess. This ISIS began creating its unique take on the earlier sludge metal sounds of Neurosis and Godflesh from the very start of its formation in 1997 and quickly released two EPs that showed considerable progress as well as a lengthy tour that allowed the band to hone its chops and introduce its potential to a wider audience but it wasn’t until the debut of the band’s first full-length album CELESTIAL that ISIS really started to catch the attention of the mainstream metal world internationally which resulted in the band actually touring with Neurosis and in many ways picking up the baton of the atmospheric sludge metal world as Neurosis itself was distancing itself from the earlier heaviness and drifting more into the atmospheric realms. On CELESTIAL, ISIS struck the perfect balance of the heavy hardcore influence sludge riffery with the electronic infused atmospheres that resulted in a totally unique post-metal experience.

Thematically the band continued its critique of power structures and deals with the erosion of privacy through technological advances. The album had depicted several different versions of cover art with the newer versions displaying towers that are designed to spy on our every move and perhaps even our very thoughts. These themes would remain a staple of the band’s explorations throughout its career until its ultimate demise in 2010. Following in the footsteps of Neurosis, ISIS released a sister EP titled “SGNL>5” the following year and was designed to be a companion piece to CELESTIAL. The works were an extension of the tracks on this album taken from various sessions and offer more variations in the themes and dynamics. The two releases have been released together as a deluxe version of CELESTIAL as well.

CELESTIAL is where all the promises of the past finally hook up to create the unique heady mix of surreal post-metal and bombastic sludge metal that ISIS made their own and in the process quickly launched themselves into the limelight as the best of the sludge scene. Having been the closest album to the early years that displayed a violent attack of hardcore distortion and guitar attacks, CELESTIAL is an interesting mix of bombastic guitar heft along with a much more developed display of electronic wizardry that sprawls out into continuous atmospheric streams of consciousness. Pretty much everything about ISIS took a leap of sophistication on CELESTIAL. The compositions are much more intricate with seemingly repetitive riffs decorated with subtle variations that seem to repeat four times before adding new elements. The band’s classic lineup was completed as Bryant Clifford Meyer replaced Jay Randall on electronics.

With a running time of 52 minutes, CELESTIAL debuted an epic run of tracks that slowly meander down post-metal alley. Lengthened and infused with creative call and response effects of guitar noise and electronics, this album perfectly displayed the fertile possibilities of fusing hardcore metal with electronic ambient effects. The music was also designed to display the themes. A perfect example is the guitar stomping bombast heard in “Deconstructing Towers” while a radiant whizzing of electronic chaos whizzes by in the background until the destruction is complete. In many ways, ISIS merged the heavy punk infused hardcore sounds with the repetitive surrealism of 70s Krautrock. The slow ratcheting up of subtle differences is right out of the A.R. & Machines playbook, Achim Reichel’s best known project.

With CELESTIAL, this Boston band essentially broke into the big boy’s club and created some essential metal listening experiences. Not by crafting melodic tracks that offered sing-along sessions but rather but taking a completely different approach. ISIS went for the complete experience route which means that the album is designed to consume as a whole run. Yes, it’s a lengthy commitment but not overly so. It really does unleash its magic with a few attentive listens that aren’t hurried. Comparisons to other metal bands won’t do either. CELESTIAL is essentially a post-rock album dressed up in metal attire.

While the cyclical loops and sprawling compositions are right out of the post-rock playbook, the themes and caustic bombast of guitars, bass and drums in tandem keep the band firmly placed in metal territory. CELESTIAL may have been a warm up for the more lauded “Oceanic” and “Panopticon,” however this album has a charm all its own and in many ways i prefer this album to the following examples of fan favorites. CELESTIAL climbs another rung of the post-metal ladder for ISIS and accepted on its own merits is a wonderfully dynamic musical experience that remains hypnotically seductive for the entire run despite bouts of extreme metal brutality and harsh noisy distortion lurking around every corner. The production is one of the key factors that segregates all the corresponding sounds into the proper roles. In short CELESTIAL is an amazing achievement of modern metal at its finest.
Triceratopsoil
One of the understandably less popular ISIS albums, Celestial really predates their signature atmospheric post-metal sound. This is a much heavier album than one would expect. Drudging, long, hypnotic dirges not unlike the earlier years of Neurosis. The vocals are harsher, the guitars are lower and rougher and heavier, the bass rumbles along. ISIS has as much of a solid wall of sound as ever, just a different wall. Music that slowly squeezes down on your skull and crushes the flowers and kittens out of your system.

Far more on the sludge end of things than post-metal. Recommended listening if you can handle it. Lay back and embrace the weight. Bleak.
bonnek
Isis is one of the few post-Neurosis bands that captured my attention. Not being a bit fan of post-metal and post-rock in general, Isis managed to create some albums that, while not highly original, are still excellently written, betraying a knack for songwriting that most bands in this field can only dream of.

The main purpose of this music is to be heavy, monolithic even. And in order to make the heaviness sound as heavy as possible, post-rock/metal always resorts to crescendos and endless quite/loud dynamics. Isis have the rare gift to be both adept at crushingly heavy doom rock and meaningful soft noodling. On further albums they would get even better at the soft parts.

Not every track on this album is equally inspired. Especially Celestial (The Tower), the softer C.F.T. and the epic Gentle Time are worth checking out. The remainder of the songs are competent but for fans of the style. Celestial is a good debut from one of the many Neurosis-inspired 00's bands. Mostly it makes for an appealing but not for what I would call a required listen.Unless you're a post-metal fan of course.

Members reviews

Sleeper
All bands have to start somewhere and in terms of recorded music this is where Isis began. Celestial provides a slice of Post Metal that is undeniably heavily infuesed with the sludgy, industrial feel of Neurosis, the progenetors of the Post Metal scene. But, to describe them as simply a Neurosis clone would be doing Isis quite the disservice as they are already adding something of their selves to the style with a higher level of detail in the quiter moments as well as a far broader pallette of sounds in the programming and samples department to flesh out the sound.

However, heaviness is quite definitely the name of the game with big, chugging, mid-tempo riffs from Aaron Turner and Mark Gallagher supported by Jeff Caxides pulsing bass lines dominating the album. Sadly though, this is part of Celestials undoing as the riffs are too repetative, lack for variation and outright development to truly lift the level of this album to something great. I cant help find the switches from the wall of sound to the calmer moments and back again to be largely clunky in feel and these problems all add up to kill the atmosphere of the album before its had a real chance to get a hold of the listener. All of these problems can be put down to the fact that they are a new band on this album and as such havnt had a chance to develop their skills in the art of composition, something they will rectify in the years to come. Mind you, its not all bad, not by a long shot. Celestial (The Tower), Swarm Reigns (Down) and Gentle Time are 3 excellent tracks. Swarm Reigns (Down) shows this Neurosis inspired style of Post Metal at its best, whilst Gentle Times points to things to come with an allecraty that is quite surprising. And then there's the title track, Celestial (The Tower). This magnificent piece of work shows the band at its best and the loose structure has made for ample oppurtunity for improvisation in their live shows (witness the 17 minute version the live album Live II), all of which has meant that this track has a remained a fan favourite and a staple of their live act for 10 years now.

An interesting debut but in the end it pales into comparison with what they will be able to do on future releases. Celestial also marks the end of an era where Neurosis where the dominant force in Post Metal because from the bands next release, Oceanic, Isis will take that mantel. Good, but nothing special from a band capable of far more.

Ratings only

  • Unitron
  • Wilytank
  • Anster
  • loggerhead
  • Coracin
  • The Angry Scotsman

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