by Tom Johnson
I like to think of Isis as the band that Tool wishes it could be. Call me jaded, but by this time, Tool had become entangled in plots created to baffle and obfuscate rather than intrigue and draw listeners in, being what they think is clever but what really winds up being just tiring and boring after a few listens.
Isis instead wisely held back the throttle at all times, always letting things churn just a little longer than might be comfortable, but giving listeners something extra to chew on, and that’s what’s made this music so rewarding: It’s worth going back to over and over again.
That doesn’t make not easy listening, but it’s also just not made difficult to keep you guessing forever. There’s no game here as there always seemed to be with Tool in 2006. The music speaks enough for itself that the band doesn’t need to hide clues to keep listeners interested and that speaks volumes as to who their music is aimed at. We’re all adults here, they’re saying, do we really need to give you riddles? How about we just give you great music that will last you a lifetime?
Isis is heavier, harder, and more demanding — this was not casual music by any means. While vocalist Aaron Turner has usually spent most of his time in a yell, here he added more sung vocals. Don’t take that as a sign that the band was softening, though. It was simply a new dynamic that added texture.