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Isis - Panopticon CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.12 | 243 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Blueprint of a city.

If anything, the cover art suggests pictures of a city christened in marble monuments and steel skyscrapers. Yeah, the music may sound like metal riffs, but step back and try to visualise and you might just see what I mean. It's stunning.

ISIS are a completely different breed of progressive metal than I'm normally used. After going through bouts of trying to understand groups with flash and technique, ISIS is another story. It's all about layering riffs, setting a foundation for their music and expanding on that foundation enough to draw you in. The riffs are like hooks that pierce your brain and most of the time you're excited to see where the song can take you. The composition approach reminds me of the Miles Davis, moreso in the business of developing musical ideas than the style of music played. That's the impression I get from PANOPTICON.

I'm willing to accept the seven songs of PANOPTICON to be interconnected in some way, but there are a few songs that are powerful enough to stand on their own terms. In particular, the succession of tracks from ''Backlit'' to ''Syndic Calls'' constitutes the best run in the entire album; the vocal section in ''Syndic Calls'' is the euphoria on the album for me, although ''In Fiction'' is splendid. ''Grinning Mouths'' is also not to be overlooked as a closer, a fitting one at that. In general, most of PANOPTICON sounds like ISIS getting a feel for where they think the song should go, not following a textbook definition of metal or prog.

One problem might be the vocals; they either are the most generic death grunts out there or they completely cop Kurt Cobain's vocal style. But aside from that (and a relatively weak ''Altered Course''), PANOPTICON is one of the best progressive metal albums I've heard. And this is coming from a guy who is not a metalhead.

Sinusoid | 4/5 |


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