If the preceding The Mosquito Control EP and The Red Sea short-lengths proved Isis’s punishing potential, the Boston band’s debut album, Celestial, blows the floodgates wide fuckin’ open. Featuring Hydra Head honcho Aaron Turner on guitar and vocals and ex-Cable guy Jeff Caxide on bass, Isis lay into long, lumbering death-jams with the force of a mastodon, deliberately stumbling ‘n’ rumbling through all sorts of trance-inducing sludge somewhere’s between recent Neurosis and His Hero is Gone. Like the late, great Hoover, Isis utilize space with the utmost diligence [radical] as in absolutely smothering it when the volume knob’s on 11, or heavily reverbed guitars and all, letting it eerily float on by when everyone cools down for a cigarette break. Whereas most of the band’s metal-core contemporaries haven’t even gotten that far aesthetically, Isis come off like a bunch of veterans in the production department (notwithstanding the album’s elegantly abstract packaging), just-as-diligently using the studio as another instrument by plastering layer upon layer to Celestial‘s doom-dense walls. Also, Turner’s vocals bear some semblance to another of Isis’s forebears, Tar, in that he desperately tries to fight for air above these walls, much like the latter’s John Mohr did, but ultimately fails to surmount them — in the context of the album, all the better for it, methinks. The next time you’re on a barbiturate binge and the Sabbath records aren’t handy, reach for Celestial instead: so singular in its arresting artistry, the album’s quite possibly the The Lurid Traversal of Route 7 of the post-metal-core era.
Escape Artist, P.O. Box 472, Downington, PA 19335-0472; http://www.loudnet.com/escapeartist