Heyyy readers, Whaaaat’s happeninggg?

It’s been a while since my last post. I apologize for the lack of music recommendations as as of late. I’ve actually been feeling rather uninspired by the music I’ve been listening to. I’m still cranking Pantera to 11, but for some reason I’m not franticly pumping my fists in the air. I’m also not quite as excited by Paul Gilbert’s lightning-fast guitar solos…

I need some new tunes! This week I decided to do an exercise. I do a ton of scale/finer exercises in guitar practice so I figure I should probably do some exercises with writing. Maybe this can get me out of my uninspired funk.

This week, I’m going to attempt to write a review for an album that I have never heard before by a band that I don’t know. I want to write an unbiased review based on the music alone without the context of the artist’s previous work. Music will speak for itself!

I just bought the album on iTunes through my Genius recommendation thingy. The band is called Isis and all I know is that they lie somewhere in the progressive metal realm. Here’s my stab at writing a review entirely based on close listening. Headphones on. Play.

Band: Isis

Album: Wavering Radiant

This album’s first track, “Hall of the Dead,” starts out with subtle, mono feedback and then shifts into stereo with the full band. The guitars are tuned fairly low, the drums are crisp and clear, and I can hear the BASS! Nice to hear some hard music with an audible full and warm bass. In come the growling vocals. DAMN, this guy can bark. The lyrics are indecipherable.

The production is quite good, and Isis are creating an ambience by the means heavily reverberated guitar tones, panned instruments, and a soft/loud dynamics. It’s quite the soundscape. Large reliance on reverb, chorus effects, and synth sounds. The dynamics of the following songs, “Ghost Key,” and “Hand of the Host,” continue the pattern of brutal distorted verses with growling vocals, seamlessly flowing into cleaner melodic choruses. There are breaks in the heaviness with long clean interludes of bass-driven melodies and soaring guitars that paint an array of tonal colors.

Overall, these songs are meandering. There is a lack of hook riffs that draw you into the songs and the minor keys create a melancholy aggression. The musicality isn’t anything mind blowing. Isis is obviously a tight band with talent, however it seems like they are striving for an overall impression of the record as a whole rather than a showcase of their musical abilities.

This is certainly a progressive metal album. The Tool influence is very apparent as Adam Jones from Tool appears on a couple of tracks. The atmospheric textures in between songs are reminiscent of early Pink Floyd. Thes transitions make me believe this is a concept album in some way, but lyrically, I have no idea what it’s supposed to be about. Wavering Radiant sounds a lot like Mastodon’s critically acclaimed record Crack The Skye, and to be honest, if any of you are interested in checking out this genre, go with Mastodon. They achieve the same effect as Wavering Radiant but their songwriting skills are much stronger and their musicality is far more interesting.

After this first listen, I’m pleased that I got the album. There is a lot going on on this record and perhaps it requires multiple listens to appreciate the intricacies. Atmospheric, dissonant, and powerful, Wavering Radiant by Isis will be appreciated on a rainy day.

And now, here are the songs of the week:

Isis- “20 Minutes/40 Years”– from 2009’s Wavering Radiant.

Mastodon- “Oblivion”– from 2009’s Crack the Skye. You can hear similar elements to Isis, but this song just RULES. And you can understand the lyrics.

And just to change the mood a little bit…

Sublime- “Santeria”– from Sublime. Who doesn’t love Sublime? I want you all to leave happy rather than depressed.