A Radiant Ending?
It is such a shame that the band Isis have broken up, or at least were planning to break up. “Planning to break up” sounds a little strange, considering that band breakups conjure images of people too angry to be in the same room. Isis however have always been a little different from most bands, announcing in May that they would finish a tour and an already scheduled EP before “officially” disbanding. This is especially disconcerting because their latest album, Wavering Radiant, is yet another example of the excellent work they do together. It’s hard to classify, quite possibly something like Eric Clapton mixed with Morbid Angel.
The first two songs on Wavering Radiant, “Hall of the Dead” and “Ghost Key” are on the calmer side—dreamy guitar work, methodical hooks, and smooth vocals. Third track “Hand of the Host” is where things get a little heavier, with some growled vocals and heavy drum patterns meshed into a bluesy crescendo. The short title track acts as a meandering intro for the following song, “Stone to Wake a Serpent,” which boasts some of the album’s hardest moments.
Yet to describe the album’s seven tracks does Wavering Radiant no justice, because music like this is meant to be listened to as a whole—like a symphony, like classic Pink Floyd or Opeth. Each song feels like it builds on the prior one, culminating with the frenzy of “Threshold of Transformation” with its chunky rhythm patterns and more growled vocals. Some of Isis’ finest moments are toward the end of tracks, when the fast heavy parts weave into slower blues-driven riffs, morphing into a swelling of greatness.
Isis has been quoted as saying they do not wish to “push past the point of a dignified death” and that they have “said all [they] wanted to say.” This seems hard to fathom, considering Wavering Radiant is their best album yet. We might only hope that while assembling that new EP, Isis decide to keep the band going after all and continue to expand the limits of music.