Friday, July 18, 2014

FDF Volume 3 Issue 344 - Isis - Oceanic

Album - Oceanic
Artist - Isis
Key Players – Jeff Caxide – bass. Aaron Harris – drums. Michael Gallagher – guitar. Bryant Clifford Meyer – electronics, guitar, vocals. Aaron Turner – vocals and guitar
Produced By – Isis and Matt Bayles

Release Date – September 17, 2002

Overview – This is the second full length album from Los Angeles (via Boston) post metal band Isis.
This album would land on year end “best of” lists and garner“tops of the decade” accolades. Critics and fans point to this record as a “game changer” in the genre.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The nine song 63 minute album is a theme. A man on the brink of emotional numbness finds a female who completes him. He finds out she has a long term incestuous relationship with her brother. He loses hope and commits suicide by drowning. The tracks tell the tale and it starts off positive as “The Beginning And The End” begins. The band finds fluid movement as the bass, drums and guitars lay in but you can hear the light keyboard work from Clifford Meyer. When Turner sings its hoarse, and gruff, but it is filled with that raw emotion you focus on what he is saying but the band continues around him to build tension. The band musically is interesting to listen to. The Caxide bass lines are punching and clear. You can hear the two guitars and each of the instruments that Harris hits on his kit. The length of the tracks help the band as well. Outside of two songs under 3:05 in length six minutes is “short” so they have some things you can really latch on to. “The Other” feels like its comes right as part of the lead off, but the bass melody is off just that much. Again the band is letting each person come in and slowly building. The build puts all the more punishment in Turners howls. Gallahger and Turner chug the guitar lines and the track continues to pummel for the 7:15 duration. In following the story you feel the change as "False Light"  begins. Turner is right there and the angst pours out but the guitars are to die for. The big riffs are excellent and slowing it down some about half way in to the track shows the band as being skilled, and willing to take risks. The monster riff on the back end is a payoff. There is not a gap and “Carry” feels like a soft bookend (at the start) to the conclusion of the first part of the album. There are more electronics at the intro with players finding their spot on bass and guitar, but its more drone than playing. Harris gets to about 1:20 in before he starts to get the things moving some. Turner and Gallagher are not in a hurry and they each go in opposite directions keeping the track on the quiet side, showcasing their “slower” guitar skills. Dare one say “pretty” in a case like this, but its always interesting to let the music alone tell you a story (or part of). Its not until 4:15 that Turner comes in and he is as urgent at always and Harris is all the willing to play along. Following that track is “-”. Yes its just a dash and at 2:06 its a track to progress you on to phase two. “Maritime”, which follows, is the second shortest song and it does set up phase two. Feeling more electronics based the guitar and drums keep this instrumental track moving right along. “Weight” is the longest song on the album and Harris gets the bulk of the work at the start, he is not going wild on the drums, simply setting the pace as a lone guitar and bass come along. The female vocals are a unique addition and the track continues with its slow burn as Harris goes harder on the hi-hat and Turner and Gallagher build on each others guitar progression. Maria Christopher has the vocals, but she repeats the line vs singing a verse. It hits its peak and fades on an orchestral held note.  "From Sinking" brings back the sludgy metal that is so appealing to these ears. Caxide has some great bass fills as the guitars really grow along with Harris' heavy drum strikes. The band spreads out this 8 minute track pretty well, changing tempos and really taking you for a ride musically. If this is the “suicide” track, its spot on. The album wraps up with “Hym” Clifford Meyer sings the first part and he has a bit more of a soaring voice that Turner. Caxide and Harris work well as Gallagher and Turner layer the guitars on each other. Clifford Meyer pushes himself vocally and the band does a few start/stops to keep us all at attention. The breaks give you chances to exhale, and the build to the end really wraps this album up on high note.

Where are they now? - The band broke up in June 2010. At the time the band said they had done everything they had set out to do and decided to end it. Caxide has done some solo work and was on the “Palms” album which featured Chino from the Deftones. Clifford Meyer was also a part of the Palms project and worked with other bands such as Red Sparowes. Gallagher has worked under the moniker MGR and released two solo records and done some work with films. Harris has done work as a drum tech (for Tool) and was also involved with Palms. Turner is an artist, worked with dozens of bands and even founded and ran Hydra Head Records. He is busy.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off? - Okay okay..Turner has a “difficult” voice to listen to. When it comes down to it, the emotion is what drives it. You need to break out of comfort zones at times and really let things sink in. The story, the urgency all add up. That being said, this should hardly gain dust. It's a watershed record for this band and just a thrill to listen to. You might not be able to toss on at a party, but in your car...its a must. Give those speakers a workout. There are many reasons this was picked as one of the best records of the year (and then some). Dig in.

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