VAULT: Isis – Panopticon
ISIS broke up this year and I felt it was an apt time to look at my favourite album of theirs, the epic Panopticon. The band were born out of Hydra Head Records head dude Aaron Turner drawing influence from some of the more experimental hardcore/metal acts in the mid to late 90’s (in particular the mighty Neurosis) and aiming to create “thinking man’s metal”. Their early material was steeped in classic metal and hardcore, albeit in a slightly more adventurous manner. Then they released their second album, the groundbreaking Oceanic.
That album had a greater understanding of quiet and loud, and new textures were added to the band’s music, such as ambient and avant-garde elements. They began to move away from being seen as aping Neurosis or Godflesh and began to cave a niche for themselves as a post-metal band. They fully realised their potential with the huge Panopticon. Even though it is the least heavy of their output, their third album proved to be their most accomplished and emotional yet.
With the shortest song clocking in at almost 7 minutes, (the incredible Wills Dissolve) its clear these songs have been borne from huge jams, and sometimes range from hushed beauty to roaring noise several times during their running time. Here, ISIS managed to create a new, fresh sound while paying homage to their predecessors, most obviously Mogwai. This album is for putting on when you want to listen to emotional, powerful music that doesn’t need to bludgeon the listener all the time to prove its intensity and power. I’m sad to see these boys call it a day. Well, at least we can still enjoy the music.