I often find myself becoming disgruntled with the comparisons between Isis
. On the Celestial
did show a definite Neurosis
vibe, but from Oceanic
on wards, Isis
are more often than not the ones being imitated. Oceanic
was a ground breaking record which mixed the aggressive post metal of Neurosis
with a stronger post rock vibe, resulting in what is perhaps the first album of its kind, ushering in a new blend of metal, hardcore and post rock.
At its core, Oceanic
is a blend of post hardcore and doom metal with the song structures and atmospheric prowess of post rock. Most of the songs follow the loud-quiet dynamic of post rock and thus it’s structured rather similar to ambient music. Long songs that start off fairly quiet and mellow with more and more elements being added on or taken away. This gives the songs a feeling of evolution, with the band always going through multiple transitions. Oceanic
isn't a riff oriented album, with the guitars content to play quiet post rock passages with louder, more bombastic chord progressions. There’s not really any stand out melodies with the music being more rhythmic and progressive in nature.
the relative simplicity of the style it never gets boring. The music truly has an Oceanic
feel to it, what with the constant shifting of the guitars and the multiple transitions. The production feels very warm and clear, the guitars have a nice crisp and clear tone to them whilst retaining a rather dense wall of sound ala Neurosis
. The overall feel of the music is very organic and natural. The transitions between light and dark sections never feel awkward or out of place feeling like a natural progression. Of course, it can be argued that the bands over reliance on the standard tropes of post rock might get a tad predictable but the surging climaxes and the atmospheric quiet sections are interesting and varied enough to ensure the music remains interesting.
Vocally, front man Aaron Turner utilizes a harshly yelled bark not dissimilar to Neurosis
. They’re never fast or aggressive, perfectly suiting the meandering atmospheric style performed here. The ethereal female vocals on the track Weight work perfectly with the soothing music underneath, she’s got a beautiful voice and it complements the music really well. Lyrically this is a concept album of sorts with a single story being portrayed through each track. The story is quite dark and depressing, dealing with subjects such as incest and drowning. Surprisingly, despite the dark and disturbing content presented by the lyrics, I find the music rather uplifting and soothing. It certainly never becomes depressing or too hard to handle, instead the music is very comfortable and warm.
is not an album for everyone, the overuse of the climax and general minimalist and repetitive song structures might begin to wear thin on some listeners out there. After all, this is an album that strives for atmospheric progression above all else. The music on Oceanic
is very calm and soothing, and even when it picks up a bit as is the case with the surging climax on The Beginning and the End
it’s still remains relatively calm, never outwardly aggressive. I guess some metal listeners out there will be put off by the albums “soft” and calm disposition and its connections to the hardcore and post rock scenes. Really though, Oceanic
isn't a typical metal album and would be better suited for those looking for atmospheric and emotional music rather than something you can headbang and rock out to.
If I got an Euro for each band tagged "progressive" or "post-whatever" with a similar sound I would be rich by now. Just starting in 1979 you have bands like "the Wire", earlier you had Can or Neu and now you have ton and a half of sludge/doom/prog bands doing the same. The difference is minimal.
The problem is that these bands want to be so "progressive" and original that they try to mix as many different things as possible into one single song. And not only that, all and each of them do it in the very same style so that if I didn't knew the band is "Isis" I would have perfectly believed it if you told me that these were Sons of Otis or any other similar band.
OK, there are times when you listen to an album for the first time and you don't find it to be genial and after a second time it does... but mate, if you have to listen to something for a few times to get it it's just a bad album. It may be well performed and produced but the artists have failed in conveying the message or idea they wanted to transmit, and this is a fundamental Law in Art in general: If the people fail to understand what you want to say it is not good.
And the only message that this band manages to convey to me in this album is "Hey mate, we play lots of instruments, have a lot of influences and are very modern". And they do that in a very boring way. The general impression of all this mixing of stuff is dull, in the same way as when you put plasticine of many colours together getting a horrible grey-ish result.
Sorry for the bad opinion ;)
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