Isis. Isis, Isis, Isis. Oh, Isis. You are now almost one year dead. And I still kind of don’t care?
I don’t know why I never quite latched on to the music of Isis. There are a lot of bands that are stylistically or musically similar, or even share personnel, that I really love, but Isis themselves, one of the most popular acts of the so-called “post-metal” scene, have always left me feeling luke-warm at best.
The issue is simple on paper. I listen to an Isis album, and almost without fail, once it reaches track 3, I completely zone out, and then cease to really listen or later remember the songs at all. It’s not like all the songs sound the same – though they do often follow the same simple formula. I could be a dick like most amateur music critics on the internet, and make seemingly arbitrary binary proclamations about musical quality and then back them up with ceaseless ferocity. But the thing is, I like Isis. I don’t think they’re “shit” or anything. I also don’t hold to the common perception that their albums drop off notably in quality at a certain point. To my mind, Oceanic is just as unmemorable as Wavering Radient, just in an almost imperceptibly different way. In my mind, anyone who says Oceanic is great but In the Absence of Truth is shit are investing too much in their nostalgia, to put it kindly. Because frankly, all the Isis albums from Oceanic onwards seem so similar to me that if you like one, I do not understand any empirical way you could not at least partially enjoy another. But that’s just the way people on the internet are.
The thing with Isis, is that everything I really want from their music, the slow repetitive riffs, the odd twists and dissonances, the dynamics, epic scope and scale, beefy tones, all of it I get in greater volume, and with greater enjoyment from both Old Man Gloom and Pelican. Those bands of course have their own characteristics, but the point is this: I want to enjoy Isis, but something is missing. And to this day, I don’t know what that is.
Could it be a lack of melody? Unlikely given the other stuff I listen to. A lack of interesting rhythm? Maybe, but I don’t think so. Could it be that I don’t like their riffs? No, because the ones I do remember (usually the first two or three from each record I have (the last four by the way)) I do like.
It eats at me, it really does. The type of person I am, I want to know why I like or don’t like something. When I’m stuck in the middle and I don’t know why, it’s that much worse. So, here’s to Isis, a source of continuous frustration. On the plus side, they now no-longer exist, so all the members can spend more time on their other projects that I much prefer, whether that’s Mamiffer, Red Sparowes or the almighty Old Man Gloom, who ironically enough, I love more than I thought I would.