ISIS — Oceanic

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ISIS - Oceanic cover
4.23 | 41 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 2002

Tracklist


1. The Beginning and the End (08:01)
2. The Other (07:14)
3. False Light (07:42)
4. Carry (06:46)
5. - (02:05)
6. Maritime (03:03)
7. Weight (10:46)
8. From Sinking (08:24)
9. Hym (09:13)

Total Time 63:17

Line-up/Musicians


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

Guest musicians:
- Maria Christopher / vocals (tracks 1, 4, 7)
- Ayal Naor / guitars (tracks 1, 7)

About this release

CD released 13th September 2002 in Japan on Ritual Records (HWCY-1109).

CD released 17th Sepetmber 2002 worldwide on Ipecac Recordings (IPC-32).

12" vinyl 2LP released 17th September 2002 on Escape Artist (EA-19.0), limited to 500 copies:

200 copies on opaque dark green vinyl
300 copies on transparent light green vinyl

12" vinyl 2LP released October 2002 on Trust No One Recordings (TNO 018).

12" vinyl 2LP reissued 2005 on Escape Artist (EA-19.0).

12" clear with green splatter vinyl 2LP released 5th June 2007 on Level Plane Records (LP105), limited to 200 copies.

CD released 22nd January 2010 in Japan on Daymare Recordings (DYMC 114).

12" vinyl remastered 2LP released 8th January 2011 on Ipecac Recordings (IPC-32) / Robotic Empire (ROBO 096), limited to 2000 copies:

100 on seaweed (translucent green with black streaks)
200 on gyre (opaque olive)
300 on brine (swamp green/clear swirl)
1400 on black

CD released 2014 on Ipecac Recordings (IPC-148).

12" translucent light green vinyl 2LP released December 2014 on Robotic Empire (ROBO 096), limited to 200 copies.

Recorded at Fort Apache & New Alliance Audio Studios in April / May 2002.
Mixed at The Outpost in May 2002.
Mastered at RFI Mastering in May 2002.

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

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ISIS OCEANIC reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Warthur
It took me a while to wrap my head around Isis' brilliant Oceanic, but it helped that I've listened to plenty of post-rock and could readily see how the band were applying the song structures and almighty crescendos of that genre (as expertly applied by the likes of Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor) to metal. Oceanic is a fantastic musical trip, which delivers waves of tidal fury between spells of deceptive calm - much like the ocean the album is inspired by. Unlike, say, Maudlin of the Well's compositions on Bath/Leaving Your Body Map, the quieter more post-rocky sections and the louder metal sections sit together much more naturally in the context of the compositions, creating a fantastic and cohesive musical experience.
The Angry Scotsman
One of the most influential albums in underground metal.

This is the album that created the genre of post-metal, as we know it. Even in the metal community, post-metal is a genre that is fairly obscure. It's roots lie with the music of Neurosis, the atmosphere of Tool and grew from the sludge...was assembled by Cult of Luna, Pelican and earlier works by Isis, but this was the album that truly defined the genre of post metal.

If you want to understand what post metal is, then listen to Oceanic. This album is about creating atmosphere rather than musical showmanship.

Oceanic is heavy, very. In fact it takes metal to a very pure form. The frills of speed are completely removed, and even riffing is absent as the guitar playing is built almost entirely on chords. Heavy, dense walls of chords. Wall is an accurate description since the music can be an amorphous sonic assault.

To a new listener it may sound the same, but when one really listens to the music you will see there is subtle progression. It's this progression, requiring a bit of a trained ear, patience and intellectual metal head that is the emphasis of the music. You will find no guitar solos on this album!

However, all the heaviness is contrasted with light sections. In fact the interplay of light and dark, usually a few times within each song, is the staple of post metal, soon to be beaten to death.

This is another important aspect of post metal, its unorthodox song structure. There are no verse-chorus songs here. Genres such as thrash and death metal feature structures that change abruptly, extremely and are usually complex, (if not anarchic). Oceanic makes theirs brutally simple: heavy, light. Lengthy songs, moving at a moderate pace alternating between sonic barrages and mellow ambient interludes reminiscent of Tool, or Pink Floyd and can be surprisingly dense in their gentle way. Of course, there is a bit more than this. Overall, the songs tend to move, gradually progressing to their climax (whatever it may be) even if several hills and valleys have to be traversed.

Turners vocals are hoarse barks, placed throughout the album and buried a bit in the music. This combination makes it impossible to decipher, but functions as a wonderful aesthetic to the music. Also makes them much more tolerable than usual. Pepper on some simple, slightly off kilter drumming that seem to continue pummeling along regardless and you have one extremely intriguing album.

Apart from the occasional interlude, no song stands out on this album. In fact they all are quite samey. Of course each is unique, and attention is needed for this, but overall every song follows the same structure. A bit formulaic, even if the numbers change. 2+2 or 1+3 either way they equal 4.

Very influential album, and a great one at that. If you are a fan of progressive metal, or want a challenge this album should be high on the list. As dense and heavy as the ocean, sometimes as gentle and soothing. Great album.

Four Stars
bonnek
Isis' second album is a more mature album then their debut and it reveals a more personal sound. Isis toned down the aggression a notch and opened up the sound to let in more melodic and rhythmic development.

As shown by the opening track, there are still some growing pains though. The song has a difficult start, beginning with a second-hand Tool riff that fails to get under your skin. Also the dry & gruff vocals don't work well, failing both at being forceful and fearsome. After less then 2 minutes they resort to standard repetitious post-metal riffing. It lacks both the drive and inspiration to get going. Also The Other is an faceless doodling exercise.

But with False Light the band gets the post machine rolling. A churning riff, jagged rhythm and gruff shouts make up a compelling piece of music. After 3 minutes they balance it with a very strong quite section with beautiful harmonic bass and guitar chords. Carry is more abstract, building up slowly out of layers of guitar feedback. It ends with another section of richly layered guitar textures. One of the most compelling pieces is the sober Maritime, featuring not much more then calm guitar picking, a slowly flowing rhythm and a short touch of melody at the end.

In order to appreciate this music, you need to indulge in the slow build up of the music. Weight for example sounds like an unfinished drum track with slightly dissonant clean guitars for almost 3 minutes. But patience can be rewarded, dreamy repeated female vocals are added, then heavy guitars that build to a great climax.

Just like the opening tracks, the closing tracks leave me completely cold. They are repetitious drones that lack the good riffs and rhythms to get anything going. The heavy parts aren’t heavy nor interesting enough, the few quiet parts don’t bring anything new to the table.

An uneven album from a second tier post-metal band with enough talent to write the occasional highlight.
Sleepwalker
Oceanic is the second full length studio album by Isis, characterized by sludgy guitars, dominant instrumentation and frequent interplay between delicacy and roughness. This distinctive sound has been highly influential to Post-Metal bands such as Pelican. Listening to the album, it doesn’t feel strange that Oceanic is Isis’ highest regarded album up to date alongside Panopticon.

Like already mentioned, the album features a notable interplay between delicate ambient music and crushing metal, making the album sound diverse and exciting. The musicianship is excellent, to say the least. The music isn’t incredibly complex or technically outstanding, but the band rather relies on powerful, thick sounding riffs varying from explosive and sludgy to more melodic. The riffs sound original and strong, often with chugging downtuned guitars, pounding drums and groovy basslines. All in all, the music is very energetic and dynamic. The album is a concept album (like other Isis albums), telling the dramatic story of a relationship that makes a man commit suicide by drowning himself. Aaron Turner’s vocals also are great, varying from beautiful melodies to fierce screams. Sometimes the clean vocals tend to sound a bit lost in the mix, but I can’t blame the riffs for being as powerful and dominating as they are.

The album is driven by instrumentation rather than vocals, but doesn’t tend to drag at all. Every single piece of the album is a great and unique experience, though they all share the same conceptual theme. Oceanic is an incredible album and is sure to blow fans of heavy and sludgy post-metal of their chairs. Absolutely mind-blowing, hence the rating.

Members reviews

Beekeeper
As far as post-metal goes Isis are the be all and end all of the genre, no one really does it as good as they do and travels along the same sonic wavelength. That said I can't give this album 5 stars as it just doesn't live up to the masterpiece that is Panopticon.

Oceanic possesses a lot of the same dynamic qualities and intelligent riffing as Panopticon but the execution isn't quite mastered, the songs don't flow quite as well and it doesn't feel like as much of a journey as the latter. All that being said Oceanic certainly has it's moments with the epic 10 minute crescendo track 'Weight' complete with trip-hop-esque female chillout vocals is a definite highlight.

A fine release indeed but ultimately destined to live in the shadow of it's older more handsome brother Panopticon.

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