Reviews Isis In the Absence of Truth


In the Absence of Truth

Isis has easily become a standard for the "post-" jet setter. Their latest album, In the Absence of Truth is a good example why this is happening. If not for the band, then the Red Sparowes' (with whom Isis shares a member), Cult of Luna's, and the host of imitators and admirers would have no one to look to for inspiration. It is also because of this that Isis has had to increasingly evolve to set itself apart from the crowd. In the Absence of Truth continues that trajectory. Instead of changing the music this time, the band changed the vocal style more.

The album begins with a grand buildup that leads to a major fake out for the listener as "Wrists of Kings" slyly slips into a mellow part that listeners are increasingly becoming used to hearing from Isis. The truly odd part, however, is the relatively clean vocal style. Another surprising element is the way that the song is structured like a pop song (verse/chorus/verse), albeit a very long one. The vocal hook is similarly poppy and almost infectious. The heavy climax that brings to mind their old comparisons closes out the track well. "Not in Rivers But in Drops" follows with a more aggressive attack. The vocals are still almost clean, but the music is almost manic in pacing at times. There are some truly interesting time signature changes that keep the song consistently fresh. The song kind of ebbs and flows as the band takes small breaks from the quicker paced parts.

"Dulcinea", a reference to Don Quijote's love in the Miguel de Cervantes novel, starts with a very mellow mood. The vocal arrangement has an almost pleading tone to them. I am not sure if it is because this is the track that I am most familiar with (being as it was the pre-release song), but it seems as though it is the most realized song on In the Absence of Truth. It makes excellent use of mood and tone and does some different things that really are not found anywhere else on the album. Case in point, the last section of the song is excellent and has an almost Middle Eastern sound to the guitar leads during the climax. "Over Root and Thorn" entertains with a quiet beginning that features some ambient noises. It actually gives the song a mysterious feel. When the song finally lurches in with the full band, the tone of the music suggests a host of feelings: hope, regret, loss, nostalgia, etc. that all vie for control. The way it all unfolds gives an interesting contrast between positive and negative sounds. The vocals join the fray to realize what might be the prettiest sounding Isis song ever. The juxtaposition between positive and negative continues until the song ends and heavy cacaphony.

The heavy introduction of "Holy Tears" takes a bit to relax. The song bounces back and forth between heavy parts and not so heavy parts. The most impressive aspect of this song is the vocal arrangement. It pushes the boundaries of what Isis has done previously with the vocals and makes the song for me. Unfortunately, the song slowly becomes more instrumental and buries what vocal parts there are deep into the mix. "Firdous E Bareen" (named after Hassan-i Sabbah's, who is quoted in the artwork for this album, garden) is a very odd sounding (for Isis anyway) track with lots of ambient passages and different percussion parts involved.

The artwork on this album is also a bit of a departure for Isis, but it is still pretty nice. The aforementioned Hassan-i Sabbah quote is just about the only topical text in the layout. I must say that slip sleeves are becoming all the rage lately. On a more investigative note, I did some quick research into the lyrical content of In the Absence of Truth. I found several references to Hassan-i Sabbah (an Iranian leader during The Middle Ages) and to the Miguel de Cervantes novel, Don Quijote. I wish I could unearth more and will continue in my own time. This is one of the aspects of Isis records that I enjoy, the guessing game on the topical element of the albums.

Overall this album is a good record. If you discount the previous two spellbinding albums, In the Absence of Truth is excellent. I personally would not call it a let down. The lyrical content has actually has been more involving for me than both Panopticon and Oceanic. In any case, do not listen to what people are saying about this record. Find out for yourself. It is worth it.

8.5 / 10Bob
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8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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