Reviews Isis Wavering Radiant

Isis

Wavering Radiant

More than ten years have passed since the first time that these eyes witnessed Isis and man does it ever make me feel old. That brash first performance to which I am referring (Paper Weight Fest in New Jersey) was an eye opening and ear deafening experience which literally changed my perceptions on music in one fell swoop. Fast forward to the present and one can, quite literally, hear the evolution of the band over the course of four full-lengths and several EPs. Wavering Radiant brings Isis full circle, after a year of seeing all of their studio material re-issued in a monstrous box set, and delivers an excellent batch of songs that surely is causing more than a few people to feverishly anticipate its release.

When constructing the album, one has to wonder if splitting the seven songs on Wavering Radiant in two around an instrumental piece is a conscious decision because it does work so well; in fact, the second half of the album seems to truly build momentum as the record wanes. The first half of the album contains such highlights as the quieter passages in “Hall of the Dead,” which are excellent while the instrumentation (check out the organ) and arrangement in the song lends an almost triumphant climax. The dynamic interplay in “Ghost Key” may contain some of the heaviest Isis moments since Celestial, and the subtle sounds that signal the beginning of “Head of the Host” are instantly intriguing to me while the rest of the song is classic later period Isis (post Celestial).

The second half of Wavering Radiant could possibly be stronger than the first. Blasting right from the gates is the tremendous “Stone To Wake A Serpent” and its interesting instrumentation and brief vocal harmonies that, along with the song’s arrangement, create a tension and ominous mood in the sound; the best part about the song is how the band takes the arrangement on a very narrative type journey as if the music itself is telling a tale. The moody “20 Minutes / 40 Years” may be my nominee for the best track on Wavering Radiant (yes, I am a sucker for slide guitar…joking but not really); it is such an organic sounding song that seamlessly develops over the seven minutes that it occupies space on the album, and it has some explosive movements that are powerful sounding. Those explosive movements continue on “Threshold of Transformation,” which easily is my favorite closing track on an Isis album ever. It is quite simply an exemplary placing and finishes the album on one hell of a strong note.

Admittedly, Wavering Radiant does restore my faith in the band after a somewhat (on a personal level as it still is technically excellent) lackluster effort on the previous Isis album. This album somehow, in some indescribable manner, accomplishes everything that I was hoping for from the previous record. Wavering Radiant bellows, blasts, crunches, undulates, and weaves its melodies with a seamless purposefulness that sets an excellent tone throughout the record. Without a doubt, Wavering Radiant is easily another feather in the cap in what is becoming an exemplary body of work that stretches over at least one decade. Will there be more? After this album, I, for one, certainly hope so.

8.5 / 10Bob
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Ipecac

2009

8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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