on 12 June 2005
I had not heard any ISIS before this album. Ever since I first heard it though, I just can't shut up about how good I think they are. This music is a contradiction to me because it is simultaneously dark and quite pessimistic sounding, but also strangely uplifting at the same time. I have been recommending ISIS to everyone I know with an open mind towards music. This is not just metal for metallers. ISIS create dense soundscapes that are full of texture and nuance. I recently bought the self- titled Pelican album/EP because of the endless comparisons to ISIS and that only furher confirmed how much better than the majority of experimental hardcore bands ISIS are at creating rich, dreamy walls of sound. "So Did We", "In Fiction", "Altered Course" and "Syndic Calls" are the definite highlights for me and I want all four of them played at my funeral.
Panopticon is a brilliant album that straddles three disparate strands of musical
genre-the lengthy instrumental sections favoured by Post-Rock acts such as Mogwai,
the experimental guitar sounds used by the more succesful shoegazing acts like
My Bloody Valentine,and also the more experimental metal sounds from bands like
Cult Of Luna or Pelican.Yet despite these and other more obvious influences
(Tool,Slayer)Isis transcend their fandom and emerge as a truly original band
that deserve to be heard.It is worth noting,however,that if you are new to Isis
then it may be advisable to start with Oceanic (which is worth more than 5 stars,if
possible),then buy this & In The Absence Of Truth afterwards (as they are only
worth five stars,stupid though that sounds).
on 17 December 2004
Wow! For fan's of isis it was a anxious wait for 'Panopticon' to arrive. All wondered what they could do after the almighty and enchanting 'Oceanic'? Considered by many to be one of the must have alternative/stoner metal albums' Well isis dont belive in creating nothing but a musical masterpiece. Panopticon is one of the most diverse and multi layered albums ever. Isis again show just how they have mastered soundscapes and texture within songs like 'In Fiction' and 'Altered Course', and ascend into battering riffs and drums for 'So Did we'. Panopticon is one of the must own albums for fans of diverse and alternative metal, and one of the best albums ive heard since.... oceanic
on 18 February 2005
....those wouldn't be your typical words for describing a sludge/metal/hardcore album, but there just arent any others!
I was apprehensive about this release because Oceanic and Celestial are two of the greatest albums of all time (in my humble opinion), how can they possibly match them?
Isis, like Neurosis, are an evolving band; each album is a natural progression from the last. Neurosis have been getting more progressive and folky from the evil churning of earlier albums. Isis have been maturing greatly too; from the adolescent sludge of The Red Sea E.P. evolving into a more sprawling, textured sound as on Oceanic. This is the next logical step for Isis.
Panopticon takes the progressive nature of Oceanic and the beauty of the melodies and multiplies them by 10. But this does scarifice a big chunk of heaviness and Turner's gruff hardcore vocal. Rather than hitting you with a slab of distortion like Celestial, Panopticon builds and swirls into heaviness.
Some of the melodies, especially the way the basslines intersect the guitars, are stunningly beautiful.
To be honest, i prefer the old Isis, Celestial and Oceanic, the new Isis, while still amazingly good seem a bit watered down to me. But that's just me i suppose.
If you like Isis get this now. If you like bands like Mogwai or Godspeed you Black Emperor and wnt something a little heavier, get this now.
In short, its really really good!!!
on 15 February 2009
I'm really impressed with this album actually, only just started listening to it today but I can tell it's going to be one of those albums that grows on you with every listening. It's quite melodic and has those heavy moments that every rock/metal lover needs to get the blood flowing. But it builds up to it, softly, climactic, a bit like how Tool or A Perfect Circle or Porcupine Tree compose their songs. I can hear hints of electro influence in there almost, and definitely prog rock, tells a story, you know. Makes me just want to lie in a dark room and listen to its intricacies. Really original; really a solid effort.
on 4 November 2014
Another great album, It's serene and delicate then crushing and heavy and not always in that order. The dynamics in this album are stunning there's lot's of peaks and valley's which is something I always like in any genre of music. There definitely a band that serves the music, as in they show off as a collective band with their songwriting, there's no extensive soloing or anything like that on this album. It's disciplined and tight even though a lot of the songs almost reach the 10 minute mark, the good thing is the songs are so engrossing and gripping that the time flies by. Vocalist/guitarist Aaron Turner has injected melodic clean singing to the songs, he almost has a folksy voice which is brilliantly used throughout along with his usual harsh, abrasive screams he uses his voice in an instrumental way to give the music visceral impact. Clifford Meyer's Keyboard playing is really layered and hypnotic, he play's guitar I think towards the end of some of the songs to make the songs sound more dense and heavy. The ever reliable and underrated Aaron Harris on drums is awesome he's got a great sound, he's a very musical player. Jeff Caxide's very lush, watery bass tone is always good to hear his bass playing sounds reminiscent of Simon Gallup's of The Cure to me. Michael Gallagher guitar playing seems to drive's a lot of the song's forward in a textural way.
This album is best experienced as a whole like a Tool album and yet the a lot of the song's can stand alone. The remastered album sounds a lot clearer and open to me in terms of the individual instruments it's more pronounced you can hear the subtleties much more but that's just me, I think they did a good job remastering this album like they did with Celestial. For me Isis the band quit while they were ahead with their last album Wavering Radient which was a solid album, I still think it needs time, as only time can tell what makes a classic. Isis has now become Palms minus Aaron Turner and Michael Gallagher, with the inclusion of Versatile vocalist Chino Moreno, Palms are a different beast with a few similarities, check them out there something special. Other bands to check out if you like this are Pelican and Russian Circles the only two bands I think that create something in that sort of lineage or sub-genre as Isis which is as compelling and cinematic, band's that create journeys in sound.
on 13 March 2015
I always give albums a long time before I review them. I have been listening to Panopticon for around 5 years now.....it remains in my top 5 albums of all time. An incredible work that has to be listened to in its entirety for it to truly sink in. I do not use 5 stars nearly as readily as some but I truly feel this deserves every star. For those not familiar with the band it could be classed as "post-metal", a fairly unimaginative term but there we go. Closest comparisons I would say are Neurosis, Cult of Luna and, to a lesser extent, Explosions in the sky. The 7 tracks presented here are all stunning and I will not go into each in detail but my personal favourite is "In Fiction", which I think can be seen as a microcosm of the album as a whole. That is to say, it takes it time with beautiful passages which makes the heavier moments hit all the harder. I admit that the vocal approach would put off some but once you tune into this style it really adds to the whole. I could not recommend an album more.
on 29 December 2006
I bought this album after listening to lots of Cult of Luna and was advised to check out their material 'for fans of'.
Isis have developed a wonderfully beautiful and complex album which fuses simple slow melodic passages with crushingly powerful walls of sound. What really gives this album its creedence is the slow and complex evolution of the songs. Rather than simply slowing down and speed up over a period of time, the music develops - different sounds, chord progressions, harmonys and disharmonies all intertwine while the music builds up to its powerful climaxes and then eases to gentle echoes. The range of sounds and notes alter subtely but constantly during the 'songs' which gives a hypnotic whilst intriguing experience and prevents the music becoming overly repetative like some other bands of the genre.
If you are looking for a true musical work of art which can take you on a journey from the calm lagoons to the raging stormy depths, this is as good as it gets.
A mature, intelligent, creative and stunningly beautiful album. My deepest respect and thanks to the band.
on 2 June 2006
This album is quite simply sonic perfection. Every single note, every chord and every chime or beat on the drumkit rings out in utter ecstacy, and the instrumentalists are backed by one of the most powerful voices in modern music. Aaron Turner's vocals will either crush you (such is their intensity), or make you feel euphoric. The opening vocals on "So Did We" are a prime example of how uplifted this album can make you feel, and the driving distorted gutitars that open the album are a great example of the darker/heavier side of Isis.
The most amazing achievement is how these two parallels have been combined so cohesively into an album of monolithic proportions. Oceanic and Celestial were both excellent albums, but Panopticon has an 'edge', and a whole other dimension to it that leaves it standing head and shoulders above anything Isis (and most other bands) have ever produced.
Absolutely essential listening.
on 2 April 2015
Outstanding album. Mind-blowing. This album defines ISIS. It's beautiful, it's intense, it's mystical, it's immersive, it's unbelievable.