Egyptian Goddess Seeks Crimson King
Isis and rising-star producer Matt Bayles continue their partnership with 2006’s In the Absence of Truth, the band’s most ethereal and exploratory release to date. Traveling along the trajectory set by previous releases, Isis builds upon its post-metal foundations and begins to explore their more progressive side.Though their earlier work often drew comparisons to atmospheric hardcore pioneers Neurosis, In the Absence of Truth sounds as if the band has been spending more time with their LA neighbors Tool. Justin Chancellor made an appearance on 2004’s Panopticon, and Tool’s definitive prog-rock sound has bled into Isis’s newest effort, especially in terms of guitar and bass effects, tribal drum patterns and ambient interludes. In particular, “1000 Shards” and “Holy Tears” both contain passages that are reminiscent of Tool song structures. Isis’s signature sound is not eclipsed by the influence; it is just ever so gently drifting into new directions. Notably, Aaron Turner’s clean vocals with harsh accents keep this rooted firmly in the Isis camp.
While their sound has morphed, Isis’s approach to songwriting remains mostly unchanged, as they continue to churn out seven-minute-plus epics that oscillate between heavy, thundering moments and subdued, melodic interludes. “Wrists of Kings” begins with tribal drumming and delicately picked clean guitar notes wrapped in reverb. The song remains calm until a build-up of distortion thickens the ending guitar sound. “Not In Rivers, But In Drops” starts similarly, but with a faster pace and burlier guitars earlier on. However, neither commands the listener’s attention like “Dulcinea,” the album’s highlight and a superbly crafted song that pushes the band’s dynamics to their limits. The album rises and falls as one would expect, and by the finale of “Garden Of Light,” the band is back to clean guitars that breakdown and dissipate. Bookends on yet another Isis release, and likely the seed for the tone of their next album.