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The Red Sea

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Album Review

Isis' first official release, this 1999 EP shows off a few different facets of the band's hardcore/doom/sludge/metal style, which at this stage was already pretty impressive despite not yet having fully developed to the point it would on subsequent efforts. From the hateful screaming and dense guitar/bass sludge of "Charmicarmicarmicat Shines to Earth" to the pummeling riffs and downshifting grooves of "The Minus Times" and on through the discordant guitars and more stretched-out song structure of "Red Sea," the band's influences (some of which are plainly acknowledged in the liner notes) show through pretty clearly: the Melvins, Earth, Bastard Noise, Eyehategod, Soilent Green, Neurosis, Coalesce, etc. That it is to say, Isis is drawing on a who's who list of underground heavy-music gurus, and if this EP feels a little bit more like them "doing their homework" than a later album like Celestial does, it still outshines the work of many of their peers. The CD version of The Red Sea contains 21 minutes of additional, non-filler quality material taken from a 1998 demo, bringing the disc's total length up to 36 minutes. Thus, the CD is an especially good deal for Isis fans, though it should be of some interest to fans any of the above-mentioned groups, too.


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...
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The Red Sea, Isis
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