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Monday, September 16, 2013

Isis -- Panopticon

 photo 220px-Isis_Panopticon_zps80257cc0.jpg
8/10

Panopticon is the followup to Isis' breakout album, Oceanic. Isis play stretched out, nearly instrumental rock songs, with some metallic touches, and some yelled vocals. This time around, vocalist, Aaron Turner, injects a good bit of melody into his voice. To be honest, he sounds a little bit like Nick Hexum from 311, and I don't mean that as an insult. Turner's vocals work well throughout Panopticon.
A Panopticon is a prison design where all inmates are visible at all times, taking away all privacy. Adding up the lyrics found online (good luck understanding Turner) and the quotes found in the CD booklet, Panopticon is about how the Internet and modern day technology have placed every citizen into a Panopticon of sorts (particularly at the hand of the government, which explains the rather "stately" feel of some of Panopticon's riffs). With that concept in mind, this can be a very downbeat, claustrophobic album.However, given time and multiple listens, Panopticon shows itself to be a bit deeper than that.
The band employ some pretty nice chorus (rhymes with Horus?) effects on their guitars at points, and they experiment with a lot more melody and atmosphere, as well. Dare I day, there are genuine moments that are actually a bit fun, and at the least, pretty. Kind of like oases in the desert of the album. On first listen, I'd throw a seven at this, which was my original score, but time has made the heart grow fonder. The darkness, or raininess is still there(I already compared this album to a desert. A desert of rain? Does that mean the oases are actually dry? At least I'm in the right state of mind to be listening to this), but it is not all encompassing. In many ways, this is the rare album that allows you to hear what you want. Everything is visible if you listen from the right place. Or something. Whatever.
Here is the downbeat-but-beautiful instrumental, "Altered Course." Well, downbeat to me. Might be victorious to you. Who's to say? I am setting up the next review rather nicely.

On a final note, the 70's gave birth to the spooky supernaturalish prog that underlies Isis' music, and Panopticon gives a few subtle textural nods to that age. More of that to come, as well.

2004 Ipecac
1. So Did We 7:31
2. Backlit 7:43
3. In Fiction 8:58
4. Wills Dissolve 6:47
5. Syndic Calls 9:39
6. Altered Course 9:58
7. Grinning Mouths 8:27

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