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Panopticon

Isis

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Album Review

If the glacial dynamics of previous metal and hardcore abstractions Celestial and Oceanic didn't prove that Isis was a heavy band in every sense, then Panopticon should do the trick. The title comes from 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham's prison design, which was later referenced by Michael Foucault in the 20th century. The idea is that a centrally placed guard or watcher can keep track of a large number of prisoners, and it excited Bentham and concerned Foucault. Heavy stuff for a metal band, huh? Both are quoted in the liner notes, bookended by aerial industrial photos laying out society's open sprawl. It fits perfectly with the epic music on the disc itself, which is as angular as post-rock forefathers Slint and as cosmically expansive as Neurosis, yet closer to the intensity of hardcore than either of them. Panopticon has the same cagey wall of noise as Oceanic, although the end product here is a little more polished. Aaron Turner is still howling and growling, but he's less reluctant to actually sing, just as the music is more inclined to stretch out into Pink Floyd's velvet atmospherics, which were a part of Oceanic, too, but just not as pronounced as they are here. Turner's lyrics are impenetrable, buried in the mix, but when they do pop through the haze of guitars and electronics they're appropriately weighty and tied to the omniscient paranoia of the title.

Customer Reviews

brilliant

This record is absolutely brilliant. You either "get" this band, or you don't, so I won't bother explaining it to non-believers... More melodic than "Oceanic," but in my opinion, the production is better, and the delivery is better as well. "So Did We," is the best song Isis has ever written. Towards the end of the album, it trails off a bit, but that's my only criticism. Buy this.

emotional rolercoaster

This is a great album for those who like to experiment with "new" metal. You get all you want from metal plus a bit more: the atmospheric melodies transport you far, far away. Of course, it takes a few listens to apreciate the full album as it has some smoother, ambiance moments in the above average track lengths. No guitar theatrics here, but that doesn't mean there is no pace or energy. Highly recommended for everyone but be patient, this album takes its time to deliver the goods.

Wow

Great album from the begining to the end. This is the album that made me discover this band and its a good choice for those who wants to do the same. Great ambiant rock, intelligent song writing. I hope you like it.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in Boston, MA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although rooted heavy metal and the punk/hardcore aesthetic, Isis' music relies just as heavily on ambience, atmosphere, and tone as it does complexity and aggression. Not so much a band per se as a musical collective, the members of the Boston-based quintet layer their compositions with feedback, power chords, quiet/loud dynamics, and vocals that are sometimes shouted, frequently screamed, and occasionally sung. The band was formed by Hydra Head Records owner Aaron Turner, who was hoping to combine...
Full bio