A year after their dissolution, post-metal powerhouse Isis is preparing to digitally re-release its entire live discography on a fortnightly basis throughout the summer of 2011. The set of five albums unfortunately does not contain any new material, but for those of you who skipped acquiring them while the band was still active, some of these albums may satiate your need for some fresh Isis material to listen to.
On that note, credit where it's due—if you're looking for fresh tracks to listen to, this is the most diverse and interesting set list out of any of Isis' live albums. Though a lot of their bigger earlier hits such as “From Sinking” or “The Beginning and the End” are missing, Isis devotees will be more than pleased with the track selections. Almost all of the tracks here are deeper cuts from the back of their catalogue, and this is the only album in their live catalogue where you can find most of these songs. A lot of the pieces from Celestial that would otherwise be ignored get a chance to shine, and the album feels a lot more rewarding for the extra layer of depth in the track selections.
One thing that holds this album back, however, is the variable audio quality. Because it's a live compilation and the tracks are taken from different sources, the audio quality runs the gamut from 'palatable' to 'envy the deaf.' The sound quality of “Glisten” is horrific enough to make me consider an afternoon tied up in a warehouse with Mr. Blonde to be easier on the ears. The balance also leaves a lot to be desired. On "Gentle Time" especially, the vocals are only audible for about half of the performance.
Unfortunately, a lot of the performances here aren't terribly great, either. While all of these pieces are extremely good in their studio versions, a lot of the performances here wind up sounding nothing short of annoying. In most the pieces, this is only augmented by the lacklustre audio quality. In particular, the performance of “CFT” was already mediocre; the addition of the terrible audio pushes it to the territory of actively grating on the attention. And while “Celestial (The Tower)” may not have poor audio quality, the performance itself was certainly rather cookie-cutter. It definitely pales in comparison to the version found on Live.02.
This isn't to say all of the pieces on the album are bad. This particular version of “Weight” is fairly decent, and the recording of “Gentle Time” is actually quite good, save the aforementioned vocal issues and one or two small flubs. Even though it's not one of my favourite pieces, the performance on “False Light” is also quite exemplary. The live improvisation “Endless, Nameless” is also an interesting and enjoyable exercise that fans of Isis' instrumental excursions will appreciate. But these moments are fewer and further between than should be reasonably expected on a live compilation album, especially from a band with such esteem as Isis holds. The point I'm getting at here is that, while some of the tracks on this album are individually pretty good, the majority of the tracks aren't quite up to snuff.
I am aware that nearly all of my comments so far about Live.04 have been negative; however, the overall result isn't actually quite as terrible as I've likely made it seem. The album does have its redeeming moments, but they are certainly not worth it for the average listener. Dedicated Isis fans will definitely appreciate this collection of tracks. However, I'd direct the casual listener to put her attention in another direction.
5.5 / 10
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Posted Sept. 16, 2012, 10:15 a.m.
The track listing for Temporal, the upcoming collection of unreleased rarities from Isis, has been released. The 2 CD, 1 DVD release includes 14 songs and 5 videos, listed below.
Posted Aug. 19, 2012, 3:50 a.m.
On November 6, 2012, Ipecac Recordings will issue Isis' Temporal, a posthumous collection of unreleased rarities, remixes, and videos. Isis members are currently involved with Palms, Old Man Gloom, and ...
Posted April 25, 2012, 4:11 a.m.
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