Isis - Wavering Radiant 2-LP (Blue vinyl)
ISIS’ final studio album finally available on vinyl again after 6 years out of print. Housed in heavy weight “tipon” style jacket with heavy weight printed inner sleeves.
I have been following Isis for quite some time now, and I would like to say right off the bat that they are one of my favorite bands. They are surely one of the most unique and intriguing metal acts around, and never have I come across a band with such dynamic and textural mastery. For those familiar with the group, their evolution from angst-filled hardcore brutality on "Mosquito Control" to their matured and layered / atmospheric sound on "In The Absence of Truth" is apparent, and most fans were extremely anxious and eager to see where 2009’s "Wavering Radiant" was headed. Frontman Aaron Turner and the rest of Isis collectively have the mentality of never wanting to repeat what was done before, and they feel it is important to keep evolving and exploring new musical ventures - so the nature of "Wavering Radiant" remained a mystery. For the past couple months, infrequent and ambiguous advertising and silent promotional videos were posted on their website and myspace page, which for any fan surely built up immense expectations, to which I was almost sure wouldn't be met. I am happy to say folks that my expectations were completely met, if not surpassed.
As for the actual music, Isis proudly delivers some of the most enormous and heart-wrenching compositions to date. They have returned to form somewhat, abandoning the predominantly ambient feel to "In The Absence of Truth" and including the heavy and immense sound that was heard on "Panopticon". However, there is actually a balance to be heard on "Wavering Radiant", which is the fusion of both thick atmosphere and straight up post-metal. The familiar cascading clean guitars are present throughout the cd (most notably on 'Ghost Key'), as well as the powerful and heavy guitar tone heard from as far back as their 2002 release “Oceanic”. The guitar parts are written to be less parallel and uniform as in the past, with each left and right pannings to be well thought out and complementary to each other. Caxide lays down perhaps the best bass lines out of any Isis album (which is hard to fathom), filling in the underbelly of Isis' signature high-shelf tones. As for the drums, they are mixed incredibly well and the drumkit production that Sound City studios has been able to get sounds perfect. Aaron Harris also uses 2 different snare drums for the first and second halves of the album, to which the difference in tone isn’t too noticeable but each respective snare fits phenomenally with the music regardless. Harris also shows his creativity with excellent use of the toms (and rest of the drum kit for that matter), fitting drum beats and a variety of tasteful hi-hat patterns. A final aspect of the musicianship on “Wavering Radiant” is the vocals. Aaron Turner’s clean vocals are better than ever, sounding crisper and fuller in the mix and still incredibly smooth and relaxing. His harsh vocals are still as passionate and emotional as before with no significant change, and there is again a perfect balance between harsh / clean vocals throughout the cd.
In the end though, no review can properly do “Wavering Radiant” justice. Words get in the way of describing the true nature of this cd. The album flows like a great novel, where each track sounds like a natural progression from the one that preceded it. This album is as equally haunting as it is a breath of fresh air. The atmosphere and compositional power is so immense, and to fully get the experience of the cd you simply have to listen to it and immerse yourself in the music. It truly opens up new channels in your brain that you might have thought never existed, and you can really feel the soul of this album surge through you. Isis as a band believe that “Wavering Radiant” is their best record they have ever created up to this point, and I feel it is very plausible that we the fans will find truth in that bold statement.