It’s been slow for me around the heavy camp lately. Starting a new full-time job aside, good releases in my vein of interest have been very few and far between lately. Same with news; it’s all been people dying and bands splitting up. Noteworthy, but Jimmy generally handles most of that kind of thing.
So I’ve been collating ideas for a number of articles lately, which I will be posting according to ABSOLUTELY NO SCHEDULE AT ALL. You’ll get them when you’re lucky, and be damn grateful when you do.
In an extreme burst of narcissism, this first string will be a themed series about bands that got me into metal; the bands that, no exaggeration, formed the person that I am today.
Jimmy has already started us off nicely, waxing lyrical about the virtues of Korn. First up for me, though: Isis
When the news of Isis’s demise broke recently, I mourned them quite quietly. Truth be told, I haven’t listened to them properly in a long while, so the grief came with a tinge of nostalgia, but Isis were my first metal love.
Almost no-one is born into metal. More often than not, we instead ascend, from whatever particular background, into the fully fledged headbangers that we are.
My past was one of indie/soft rock. I still like some of it, but only the really good stuff. It was the bad stuff that prompted a good friend of mine to slap a copy of Panopticon into my hand.
I’m not going to lie and say it blew my mind instantly, but hanging around with the people I did, it grew on me. More to the point, it had the opportunity to. It’s not always true, but a lot of hostility towards metal would be dispelled if people gave it a chance. It’s not all aggressive, incomprehensible screaming, but what there is does tend to put people off.
Isis were always pretty light on the vocals though, which allowed the majesty of their musicianship to really speak to me.
Quite rightfully, Isis were also the first metal gig I went to, and either by virtue of their performance, or the lacklustre ones of every other performance I had been to (although I credit the former), it was the first show I loved every minute of. And this is next to BIG bands with BIG budgets – I’m looking at you, Red Hot Chili Peppers – it’s no wonder I was led to continue my path.
But if Panopticon led me astray, Oceanic died my hair, bought me my first drink and took me to my first titty bar. The aforementioned gig was a full performance of this album – the very one mentioned on Oceanic’s Wikipedia page, which was later released as a full live album – and whilst I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the entire-album setlist as a general rule, it was truly phenomenal for little 16 year-old me. I even started growing my hair shortly after this. Can I get a fuck yeah?
And whilst I haven’t listened to Isis properly in a while, just writing this article has given me a darn good hankerin’ for some their post-metal riffery. Panopticon and Oceanic aside, this band has an impressive and diverse catalogue of records. Celestial, Mosquito Control and SGNL>05 mark the sludgier end of the spectrum, whilst newer efforts like In the Absence of Truth and Wavering Radiant bring a soothing edge to the heaviness. These last two were slated somewhat, but I still think they were excellent albums – just a bit different.
Although they’re now winding down, this is not the end of Isis. They have a tour to complete with The Melvins and Cave In, material for one more EP, and a wealth of material for perhaps a live DVD. As they said in their farewell letter, they are doing “whatever we can to make our music available for as long as there are people who wish to hear it”.