ISIS

Atmospheric Sludge Metal / Non-Metal • United States
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Isis was an atmospheric sludge metal band from Boston in Massachusetts and Los Angeles in California, formed in 1997.

Isis disbanded in 2010. Isis reformed for a one-off benefit concert in October 2018 in October in honour of the late Caleb Scofield, the vocalist of metalcore band Cave In, under the name "Celestial".

https://isistheband.bandcamp.com/

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http://www.youtube.com/ClearingTheEye

Formed in Boston in 1997, Isis is a band that combines ambience, atmosphere, and aggression to form a unique style of metal music. Isis draws from post-rock, which leans away from the traditional elements of choruses, verses, repetitive vocals, or fast/repetitive riffs. Compared to many post-rock bands, though, Isis displays more hardcore and sludge influence (especially in their pre-Celestial era).

Frontman Aaron Turner, when posed the challenge of defining Isis, stated they were best described as "avant-garde, drone-oriented rock, but that doesn't completely cover the bases." Some fans and critics tend to label Isis as
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OceanicOceanic
IPEC0 2015
$9.33
$15.16 (used)
In Absence Of TruthIn Absence Of Truth
Ipecac Recordings 2015
$9.98
$3.92 (used)
CelestialCelestial
IPEC0 2015
$8.24
$11.35 (used)
Clearing The EyeClearing The Eye
Multiple Formats
Ipecac Recordings 2015
$8.99
$3.55 (used)
Wavering RadiantWavering Radiant
Disk Union 2009
$26.69
$14.99 (used)
The Red SeaThe Red Sea
Second Nature 2002
$11.95 (used)
TemporalTemporal
Ipecac Recordings 2015
$13.24
$17.90 (used)
Mosquito ControlMosquito Control
EP
Escape Artist 2001
$26.01
$5.46 (used)
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ISIS Discography

ISIS albums / top albums

ISIS Celestial album cover 3.58 | 10 ratings
Celestial
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2000
ISIS Oceanic album cover 4.23 | 41 ratings
Oceanic
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2002
ISIS Panopticon album cover 4.30 | 53 ratings
Panopticon
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2004
ISIS In The Absence Of Truth album cover 3.25 | 25 ratings
In The Absence Of Truth
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2006
ISIS Wavering Radiant album cover 4.08 | 41 ratings
Wavering Radiant
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2009

ISIS EPs & splits

ISIS Mosquito Control album cover 3.36 | 3 ratings
Mosquito Control
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 1998
ISIS Sawblade album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Sawblade
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 1999
ISIS The Red Sea album cover 3.32 | 3 ratings
The Red Sea
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 1999
ISIS A Split Seven Inch album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
A Split Seven Inch
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2000
ISIS SGNL>05 album cover 3.14 | 3 ratings
SGNL>05
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2001
ISIS Oceanic Remixes Volume I album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Oceanic Remixes Volume I
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2004
ISIS Oceanic Remixes Volume II album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Oceanic Remixes Volume II
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2004
ISIS Oceanic Remixes Volume III album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Oceanic Remixes Volume III
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2004
ISIS Oceanic Remixes Volume IV album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Oceanic Remixes Volume IV
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2004
ISIS In The Fishtank 14 (with Aereogramme) album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
In The Fishtank 14 (with Aereogramme)
Non-Metal 2006
ISIS Holy Tears album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Holy Tears
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2008
ISIS Not In Rivers, But In Drops album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Not In Rivers, But In Drops
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2008
ISIS Holy Tears + Not In Rivers, But In Drops album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Holy Tears + Not In Rivers, But In Drops
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2008
ISIS Melvins / Isis album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Melvins / Isis
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2010

ISIS live albums

ISIS Live 1 - 09.23.03 album cover 3.43 | 3 ratings
Live 1 - 09.23.03
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2004
ISIS Live 2 - 03.19.03 album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Live 2 - 03.19.03
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2004
ISIS Live 3 - 12.17.04 album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Live 3 - 12.17.04
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2005
ISIS Live 4 - Selections 2001-2005 album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Live 4 - Selections 2001-2005
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2006
ISIS Live 5 - 07.23.06 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live 5 - 07.23.06
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2009
ISIS Live VI album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Live VI
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2012
ISIS Live VII album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live VII
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2017

ISIS demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

ISIS 1998 Demo album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
1998 Demo
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 1998

ISIS re-issues & compilations

ISIS Celestial / SGNL>05 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Celestial / SGNL>05
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2001
ISIS Mosquito Control EP / The Red Sea album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Mosquito Control EP / The Red Sea
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2002
ISIS Oceanic Remixes / Reinterpretations album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Oceanic Remixes / Reinterpretations
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2004
ISIS Shades Of The Swarm album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Shades Of The Swarm
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2008
ISIS Expanded Edition album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Expanded Edition
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2010
ISIS Live I-VI album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live I-VI
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2012
ISIS Temporal album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Temporal
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2012
ISIS Temporal: Bonus Tracks + Sawblade EP album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Temporal: Bonus Tracks + Sawblade EP
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2012

ISIS singles (0)

ISIS movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
4.55 | 3 ratings
Clearing The Eye
Atmospheric Sludge Metal 2006

ISIS Reviews

ISIS SGNL>05

EP · 2001 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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The making of the band’s debut “Celestial” resulted in lots of extra material but ISIS was rightfully apprehensive about releasing a double-album as a debut full-length album. Instead, the band wisely chose to release a companion album titled SGNL>05 the following year that acted as an extension for the “Celestial” experience for those who just couldn’t get enough. Originally released as a separate EP, the album appears as a bonus disc on the newer deluxe versions of “Celestial.”

Unlike “Celestial” that offered the first glimpse of ISIS’ unique take on atmospheric sludge metal all teased out with post-rock compositions, SGNL>05 feels much more like a supplemental album that exemplifies less metal bombast and is much more experimental in the ambient and atmospheric possibilities. The EP is somewhat of a remix album of different tracks that didn’t make the cut with remixer Justin Broadrick who worked with Godflesh and Jesu contributing a new version of the title track from “Celestial” now with the added “(Signal Fills The Void.)”

In fact, tracks like “Beneath Below” are more dark ambient with little or no contributions from the guitars and other metal features. “Divine Mother (The Tower Crumbles)” is one of the highlights that does deliver the metal goods but even here, much less so than the band’s full-length releases that sandwich this oddball. The tracks are for the most part lengthy and sprawling soundscapes that evoke an emotional reaction rather than create melodic constructs and are even more hypnotically repetitive than “Celestial.”

More instrumental than vocally infused, tracks like “Constructing Towers” display some of the guitar chugs that ISIS are famous for and is the heaviest track on the album. When the vocals do emerge, they are barely audible as they emerge from the suffocating din. The ambient “Celestial (Signal Fills the Void)” is the connecting track that bridges the album and this EP but is very much rooted on the electronic side of the ISIS equation with guitar sounds merely providing sonic textures to embellish upon.

Overall, SGNL>05 is a decent companion piece for “Celestial” but the far inferior of the two. I’m so glad that the band decided to release this separately or as the optional deluxe double discker because while this is a nice chill out album, it’s not nearly as interesting or as fluidly dynamic as “Celestial” and if these tracks were inserted into that album’s run, it would’ve totally derailed the flow and added way too much bloated padding that would’ve sunk it. With the exception of “"Divine Mother (The Tower Crumbles)” and “Constructing Towers,” these are really just leftovers without enough appeal except for the hardcore ISIS fans. The other two tracks just mentioned are quite dynamic and could easily be slipped onto an ISIS album without much ado. Good but not essential.

ISIS Celestial

Album · 2000 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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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.

ISIS The Red Sea

EP · 1999 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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While still touring the East Coast, ISIS continued to work on original material that was released early on as short EPs. After the debut EP, “The Mosquito Control,” electronics contributor and backing vocalist Chris Mereschuk departed and was replaced by Jay Randall now of Agoraphobic Nosebleed but would be the only release to feature him. While “The Mosquito Control” was an EP that hit the 30 minute mark, the second release in EP form, THE RED SEA was originally released simply with three tracks on vinyl but on the CD form it also contained the tracks from the 1998 demo. A Japanese version also included the Black Sabbath cover “Hand of Doom.
 THE RED SEA is notable for slowly ratcheting up the band’s post-metal and electronic sensibilities that would come into full display on the full-length debut “Celestial.” ISIS was never one to reinvent itself after every album but on the contrary played out as a band much like the music it delivered, namely change things up incrementally and in a nonchalant subtle manner. Not only does THE RED SEA sound a lot more like the future ISIS releases but also debuts themes such as water that would culminate in “Oceanic” as well as a more developed fusion of the band’s hardcore, doom metal, sludge metal and dark ambient possibilities.

Despite the leap forward, THE RED SEA EP still contains a heavier hardcore sound although less bombastic and caustic as “The Mosquito Control.” Given the EP is so short, it pays to obtain the edition with the bonus demo tracks however they are rather forgettable and only serve to show the origins of the band’s hardcore past and how it blossomed into the more sophisticated atmospheric sludge metal and post-metal realities of albums like “Oceanic” and “Panopticon.” Overall the album sounds unlike anything else the band had done before or after despite common traits.

"Charmicarmicarmicat Shines to Earth” is pure sonic terror. A very strange sonic smorgasbord of ethereal atmospheric freakiness and caustic jagged angular guitar chords sounding more like the funeral doom metal band Esoteric than anything ISIS ever released. This is by far the weirdest track ISIS has ever released. The screams of anguish beneath the caustic din are particularly jarring. “The Minus Times” is more in line with the previous EP with heavy hardcore guitar, bass and drums and a fast tempo. Also unlike future ISIS but more in line with what came before. Still though, this track is looser and beginning to display some of the more progressive chaotic moments between the cracks. The title track points more to the future with a slower tempo and the mix of doomy distorted riffs with segments that drift into post-rock embellished with electronics. Not as accomplished as future full-length albums but still leading there.

In line with “The Mosquito Control EP,” THE RED SEA EP is also not essential but above average in quality and displays three distinctly different tracks that offer glimpses into the evolution of ISIS’ atmospheric sludge domination of the 2000s. Michael Gallagher tamed his drumming style into the familiar percussive framing and the overall compositional approach had found many similarities with the classics to come, however THE RED SEA EP still has a very DIY indie sound to it despite a better production job. For those who only love the slicker albums this probably will be too noisy but for those who dig the early rawness of sludgy hardcore inspired post-metal then this will surely scratch that itch.

ISIS Mosquito Control

EP · 1998 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Boston based ISIS got its start in 1997 which resulted from the band member’s dissatisfaction with previous projects. While in modern times, ISIS is recognized as one of the major pioneers of the post-metal and atmospheric sludge metal sounds that evolved the sounds of previous pioneers Neurosis and Godflesh, in the beginning it simply started out as guitarist / vocalist Aaron Turner, bassist Jeff Caxide, Christ Mereschuk (electronics/vocals) and drummer Aaron Harris engaging in musical experiments. The friends quickly concatenated their various influences into a cohesive whole and in 1998 began touring the East Coast of the USA. While famous for such landmark albums as “Oceanic” and “Panopticon,” THE MOSQUITO CONTROL EP is where it all began and is the first official release after the 1998 demo.

THE MOSQUITO CONTROL EP is by far the band’s heaviest release of their career which spanned from 1997 to 2010 before they disbanded. While all the albums were graced with heavy distortion and sludge metal bombast, they were equally pacified by hypnotic atmospheric embellishments and electronic surreality. On this first EP, the emphasis is on the heavy distortion and bombastic metal sludge riffing that exposes the band member’s previous involvement in post-hardcore however while that exists in the chugging rampage of the riffs delivered at fast tempos, ISIS was already displaying the hypnotic repetitive cyclical loops that already existed in the world of post-rock. And like the compositions found on post-rock releases, THE MOSQUITO CONTROL EP linked four caustic tracks together so that they run seamlessly together in the EP’s 29 minute run.

Decidedly misanthropic and critical of power structures from the very beginning, this debut release thematically tackles how humanity can be symbolized by the MOSQUITO in which the massive power structures that keep us under control treat us like insects and feel fit to exterminate us with impunity. These themes would become a staple of ISIS’ subject matter such as the control towers depicted on this EP’s 2018 remastered album cover as well as the themes on “Celestial,” the band’s first full-length debut which was released two years later. THE MOSQUITO CONTROL EP can be thought of as a transition release which would feature the last lineup of the early years and where the band would de-emphasize the hardcore bombast experimented here and focus more on the atmospheric electronic ambience however those elements do make their debut here. There are many moments in both “Life Under The Swatter” and “Relocation Swarm” that point the way to the future.

Overall, THE MOSQUITO CONTROL EP cannot be considered one of the essential ISIS acquisitions for a music collection but it is also just above the merely “good” status as well. This is some seriously heavy sludgy post-metal that borders on doom metal at times and displays some of the noisiest and guitar laden tracks that ISIS ever recorded. This was a very much DIY sort of beginning with the entire production process only costing 600$USD. This album may exhibit post-metal meanderings but is heavily distorted and bombastically brutal with ugly feedback and industrial grade scariness lurking around every cadence. Personally i love this early filthy raw material that is both manic and hypnotic at the same time with moments where one mood dominates over the other. An excellent portrayal of early ISIS with only hints of what was to come. The ending is particularly chaotic and threatens your very sanity. Great job, guys!

ISIS In The Absence Of Truth

Album · 2006 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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Warthur
Following up classics like Oceanic and Panopticon would be a tricky enough prospect in itself, and whilst I respect Isis for choosing to evolve their sound at this point the fact remains that In the Absence of Truth is a bit of a transitional album which simply doesn't grip me to the extent that those albums do. The band seem to have been experimenting with a somewhat more atmospheric and less direct take on their sound, but on balance I think they succeeded much better at this sort of thing on the following Wavering Radiant; here, it's still a work in progress and it doesn't quite come together.

ISIS Movies Reviews

ISIS Clearing The Eye

Movie · 2006 · Atmospheric Sludge Metal
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Triceratopsoil
Probably only really for fans of ISIS (I mean, who else would buy a concert DVD than a fan of the band in question?), but an absolutely great experience. Witness an incredible band at their peak. The main feature here is the full 70 minute performance from Sydney Australia in 2005. Great cinematic camera work, a relaxing and overall fantastic performance of some of the best songs ISIS ever wrote. Top notch. No complaints here, though I'm a giant fanboy so take my opinion with a grain of salt or 10.

Most of the other live videos are curios, though they are quite good - not the same professional sound and video quality as the Australia concert.

I made my mom buy me this for Christmas a few years ago, ahaha

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