Understand a few things about me as a musician and listener. I am open minded but like most people have certain likes and dislikes in various aesthetics.
Some of these dislikes include Death and Black Metal singing, singing that is mixed so low that whatever is said doesn't make sense and most of all, voices that register 11 on a scale of 1-10 on the high testosterone gauge.
I have nothing against vocals, I have nothing against instrumentals nor bands that follow either style of music. Had you told me I would give five stars to a wailing, howling, near-incoherently mixed voice I'd have objected with a good amount of laughter.
I should add that I passed on other Isis CDs because I heard that kind of vocal style, figuring I'd give this seemingly different style release a shot as I like post rock / experimental and enjoy some metal styles, particularly when they stray from traditional formulaic, mic stand humping, vocalizing to please fictional women but...
4.5 stars. First off, let me write that I loved Isis' previous album, "Oceanic." I knew that a new album from Isis was inevitably going to be compared to that masterwork, regardless of my open-minded intentions. Therefore... "Panopticon" is yet another continuance album for this remarkable band, where they open up the music even further than "Oceanic," using it as a base to propel themselves forward, but with less aggressive riffs and some added clean vocals. I was entirely neutral about the vocals on "Oceanic" but the clean vocals on "Panopticon" mixed in with the usual hoarse shouting is actually a welcome varience, albeit only a subtle one. The music here reveals some complex songwriting that is almost unapparent upon initial spins of the CD. This is going to be one of those fine albums that becomes more interesting the more I hear it, the spacey textures and moody variations in tempo unveiled with each new measure. What I do miss, what was a mild disappointment, was that...
To put it simply, you don't listen to this album, you experience this album. I've read reviews from some that claim this album isn't the best from ISIS, but it's my personal favorite. ISIS is Tool-esque, but contrary to what other reviewers have noted, they're in no way trying to be Tool or copy them. They are their own unique sound. That being said, if you're a fan of Tool or Deftones, you will love this album. I honestly have a tough time describing this album as it is really that unique of a sound. There's a calming aspect to the album, yet also a heaviness to it as well. You can pop this album in and just unwind completely and clear the mind after a long day. As for the quality of the vinyl, it's one of the best sounding vinyls I've yet to purchase. Absolutely no pops or clicks at all, very full rich sound. I'd highly recommend you experience this album in the vinyl format. Cheers!
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