Isis: In the Absence of Truth

By: Chris Pacifico

If there is one band whose practice space would be most apt being located within Superman's abysmal fortress of solitude deep in the mountains of a cold tundra, it is most assuredly Isis. Having had the phrase "art metal" pinned on them, Isis has always explored the raw and uncharted boundaries of sound. While their audible foundation may be metal-oriented, their riffs and bridges have never seemed to stop morphing into every shape, size, and diameter imaginable as their sound is like one big ball of clay that can be sculpted into many forms. With spot on production from Matt Bayles (Pearl Jam, Mastodon, Soundgarden), In the Absence of Truth is the fourth full-length from these Boston boys and sees them challenging not only the depths of musical exploration but their own abilities as well. Sure, they're heavy enough for a head-banger, but they're also chill, complex and deep enough for a beatnik.

Whereas Isis's previous album, 2004's Panopticon, saw the band delving into an elastic breeze that hovered across most of the album's duration, In the Absence of Truth finds them giving more time to the ambience and heaviness as well as indulging deeper into the realm of layers and layers of slithering druthers and tribal drumming. In the past singer/guitarist Aaron Turner just belted outright howls and growls, and while he does keep these mannerisms, Turner also manages to take a bit of a chill pill here and there. At times he sings with a more polished tone, while at other times he seems like a threadbare troubadour morphing into the Incredible Hulk.

The opener, "Wrists of Kings," is an alluring if not tectonic crescendo that taxis the tarmac on an album that seems as if it was recorded on the blast pad of an airport runway. The riffs created by Turner and fellow guitarists Clifford Meyer and Mike Gallagher feel as if they have been stretched through a taffy pull, while Jeff Caxide's subterranean bass and Aaron Harris's sparse drumming build on that momentum.

The phrase "post-rock" is probably among the most irritant of pigeonholes attributed to Isis, but speaking from an evolutionary standpoint when describing music, Isis has now confirmed their place as post-post-rock.

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[Published on: 4/6/07]

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