Wavering Radiant review by ISIS

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  • Released: May 5, 2009
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.6 (47 votes)
ISIS: Wavering Radiant
1

Sound — 9
The tenebrous chasm of Isis has claimed many in its time, forming entire legions dedicated to the band's prowess both as a stalwart of the atmospheric sludge style and as a growing institution in the wider circle of progressive metal. Whilst undeniably innovative, I've always felt that the potential of this band has never really been met; interesting ideas being meandered away over the course of eight or nine minutes and brilliant songs failing to be supported through the duration of an album's journey'. There is something noticeably different about Wavering Radiant' from the very beginning. Even in the 16 seconds of feedback before Hall Of Dead' begins riffing it feels like the doom and gloom of the band's last three albums has been lifted, in its place a confident sound which seems to be have been given more impetus by its performer's enjoyment of the music than any kind of artistic or conceptual intent. It's taken me many, many listens through this album to reach a real conclusion, but it's been worth it because at the end of the day Wavering Radiant' is a compelling, lively and most importantly refreshing album. You may be tempted to heed the cry of the fanboys, but the band's favouring of Joe Barresi over longtime producer Matt Bayles seems to have been the right decision; whilst Bayle's claustrophobic mix may well have been important to fans of the atmosphere from the likes of Oceanic' or Panopticon', these new songs have got plenty of breathing room and they benefit greatly from it. Historically, the award for instrumental excellence has always gone to bassist Jeff Caxide but this time around he is going to have to share it with electronics-fiddler Cliff Meyer, who has absolutely outdone himself on Wavering Radiant'. Caxide is still the band's chief provider of sonic depth and melodic interest, but the keyboard parts consistently provide little bits of flare and texture to proceedings and Meyer takes turns with the guitars to provide harmonic backing for each other. Adam Jones of Tool plays on two of the songs from Wavering Radiant'; at the time of writing these songs remain officially unspecified and it is testament to the creativity of both Isis and Jones that a man with such a distinctive sound can blend so seamlessly into two songs to the point where even a major fan of his couldn't pick out exactly where he appears.

Lyrics — 9
Aaron Turner's vocal contributions are still arguably the most extrinsic feature of his band's sound, but his verses seem less sporadic; given more structure than the music itself. Not an awful lot new is done with the vocals, but Turner seems to have found a definite equilibrium with the other instruments when singing clean, something that he has appeared to struggle with on past albums. It should be left to the Isis nerds to decipher any concepts or themes this album has hidden, but the sort of images provoked by the title of Wavering Radiant' come thick in the lyrics, if not fast. It's somewhat ironic that such a positive album musically contains songs that are titled rather ominously (Ghost Key', Stone To Wake A Serpent'), but I doubt that there's anything as depressing as the concept behind Oceanic' present here.

Overall Impression — 9
In hindsight, it feels like a lot of the progressive steps taken on In The Absence Of Truth' (especially the focus on clean vocals) were merely establishing giant's shoulders for Wavering Radiant' to stand proud on. There are few moments of bone-dissolving heaviness in the traditional sludge manner, but changes in the mix and guitar tone would render that ineffective anyway; in its place we have moments like the dramatic conclusion to the record on Threshold Of Transformation', where the rich soundscape builds and builds into a final emotional pummelling before cutting to a reflective solo guitar which ends the fifth and best Isis album in striking fashion.

40 comments sorted by best / new / date

    city of clowns
    BlackSymphony6 wrote: Pingis_Or_Death wrote: What the hell is post-metal? watered-down metal for fashionable types with bad facial hair and silly, thick rimmed glasses. Jokes. Seriously, though Isis is excellent, check em out.
    lol true in some cases. but not a bad thing
    Lion_Slicer
    Or better yet (to get an idea of what post-metal is) listen to Isis. oooooh i need this album NOW!!
    BullonParade
    havent bought it yet but ive given it a few listens...well worth buying, great album.
    BlackSymphony6
    Pingis_Or_Death wrote: What the hell is post-metal?
    watered-down metal for fashionable types with bad facial hair and silly, thick rimmed glasses. Jokes. Seriously, though Isis is excellent, check em out.
    The_String_Man
    Confetti wrote: Pingis_Or_Death wrote: What the hell is post-metal? Go to last.fm. Search by tag - Post Metal Be smarter then you were before.
    or better yet, to prog-archives. panopticon!
    haz_uk
    BlackSymphony6 wrote: watered-down metal for fashionable types with bad facial hair and silly, thick rimmed glasses.
    that would be mathcore i listened to this earlier, it's a brilliant album.
    manmanster
    got it off the internet, but only because the local music store (i,e Newbury Comics) only carries the 25 dollar vinyl version! But I will be buying it soon. Fantastic album, easily their best (next to Panopticon)
    manmanster
    fantastic album, got it off the internet but buying it soon. The local Newbury Comics only carries the 25 dollar vinyl version!
    pyritmann
    haz_uk wrote: BlackSymphony6 wrote: watered-down metal for fashionable types with bad facial hair and silly, thick rimmed glasses. that would be mathcore i listened to this earlier, it's a brilliant album.
    mathcore is far from watered down, but the rest sounds about right haha, i never got into isis but i think i will give this album a try. ive heard no negative comments which is rare on ug.
    higherworlds
    such a good band, been listening to them for a while now and im a lifetime fan, good job guys love the esoteric music
    EnyoAdonai
    I've never found an album of theirs in the music stores, but have liked what I've heard from them for quite a while now. Maybe I should make a special order for this one.
    ninjaindisguise
    Amazing Album! I highly recommend it to any ISIS fans. Saw them live 2 weeks ago. They played everything off the new cd except Stone to Wake a Serpent. Effin Amazing!!!
    ambivalent615
    damn that was.. well written. i'm sold on it. i actually believe everything you said just because you put it so eloquently. you should write for commercials. at the least. im going to buy this right now.
    The Chauffeur
    ****ing great album. one of my favs this year so far. next to mastodons crack the skye and hacrides lazarus.
    Sizzleby
    you gotta be a damn good writer to describe isis' music and i think you did it
    thebleeding10
    This album is amazing!!! Great review!!! I can't believe Adam freaking Jones played a bit in this album, i honestly can't figure out where exactly he is involved in this album, but towards the end of Hall of the Dead i think there's a bit of Adam in there. I'm a BIG Tool fan so excuse my excitement.
    Kallak
    UG Team wrote: Caxide is still the bands chief provider of sonic depth and melodic interest
    I think you have the names confused. Caxide generally laid a heavy, plodding bassline (which sometimes consisted of just two notes), while the two guitarists (Turner & Gallagher) would layer melodic interchanges.
    Confetti
    Pingis_Or_Death wrote: What the hell is post-metal?
    Go to last.fm. Search by tag - Post Metal Be smarter then you were before.
    korinaflyingv
    just listening now, wow. very interesting atmosphere. i'll give it a few listens to be sure, but i do think this could very well be the best isis album.
    stwobe
    didn't get into last album. But I will get this one! They helped me through my divorce when I felt depressed as hell.. the Oceanic album reflected my feeling so well.
    Shane0s
    Isis are awesome - I loved those first two albums, haven't heard this one... will be sure to check it out. Nice article
    city of clowns
    i respect this band. more people should as well. its soo hard to find good metal bands with good guitar these days.