Album Review

Album Review: Isis – “Live VII”

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 3:12 PM (PST)
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Isis continue their stellar run of live post-break up releases with Live VII, a fantastic document of a set focusing mainly on the Wavering Radiant-era. Panopticon favorite “Wills Dissolve” again makes an appearance (as it did on Live III) as do a few other older songs- including a massive set closing version of signature post-metal chug anthem “Celestial” that can’t help but make you feel nostalgically recall just how big this outfit could sound and what a hole they left behind. Still, the majority of the songs here are the lengthy and more progressive and melodic forays found on the band’s final opus. This nine-song set was recorded on Feb. 25, 2010, at The Corner hotel in Melbourne, Australia during the band’s Soundwave Festival appearabce.  Mr. Aaron Harris mixed the album.

Hearing these live documents in the series, which some Lambgoat comments section type trolls who have never done shit with their lives have called unessential, is really awesome for real fans. I personally love that, say, Ian Mackaye did his extensive Fugazi Live series through Dischord, as it allows for cool versions and the development of the band over time to literally be heard in an organic, non studio setting. Some live albums fall flat, but with bands as exciting as Fugazi or Isis, that is not the case. You are always going to be hearing something special each time. Personally, the one time I saw them I was pretty trashed so it is great to have at least a second audio chance, or third or fourth or SEVENTH in this case.

I am in the minority among most post-metal snobs who personally liked Wavering Radiant perhaps even more than some of their earlier classics. Post chumming with Tool in, I think it was 2006 or 2007, the band really started to stretch their material out even more and expand their vocabulary as players. I for one found it exciting, though some people just don’t have the patience for that. It was kind of a precursor to some of the Palms stuff, but there was still a fair measure of harsh vocals as well.

The Wavering Radiant stuff sounds positively alive on this release, the band’s excitement from this era palpable. The watery grandeur of the hypnotic opening to “Ghost Key” is breathtaking and the rhythmic guitar parts really cut through on this version as the song progresses. The brief post-huge crescendo quiet ending of “Threshold Of Transformation” is another stunning section, almost befitting a calm yet cosmic spaghetti western.

All in all this gets very high marks because it is not only so cool to hear more organic versions of “Hall of the Dead” and a fit to exploding “Holy Tears”, but the simple breadth of what the band accomplishes and the ground covered here is far beyond the reach of most groups.

 


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