Release Date: Nov 6, 2012
Record label: Ipecac
While bands like Neurosis and Godflesh might have laid the foundation for what would be called post-metal, it was Isis that built the house, not only codifying the conventions of the genre, but continually redefining them with each successive album. When the band announced they were calling it quits in 2010, it was an announcement that reverberated throughout the world of experimental metal, but it would not be the last anyone would hear from them. Giving fans one last chance to drink from the well before it dries up completely, Temporal explores the deeper corners of the bands catalog with a collection of B-sides, demos, and remixes.
Isis’ career-capping two-disc LP Temporal begins right where they left off: “Threshold of Transformation”, the concluding track from their fifth and final studio effort, Wavering Radiant. Much hullaballoo is made over Oceanic and Panopticon—their second and third studio LPs, respectively—and rightly so. They’re both classics, especially Panopticon, a titanic achievement still today.
Isis never seemed like the type of band to hold anything back. During their 13-year career, the post-metal figureheads released five full-lengths and four EPs before disbanding in 2010. Each full-length was separated by two to three years, and if the band wasn't on the road, it seems like every waking moment of their time was spent developing their next move.
Post-metal pioneers Isis, who broke up in 2010, will be sorely missed, a fact they reinforce with Temporal, a posthumous double-disc (plus DVD) full of pristine demos and other rarities. Aficionados will love picking out the differences between these early takes and the final album mixes: “Ghost Key” is instrumental here and the chirpy keyboards are missing, while “Carry” adds high-hat taps and more pronounced swells of guitar. But the album highlight is the completely new “Grey Divide,” a 16-minute thrill ride of tribal clamor and chiming atmospherics that illustrates what separated Isis from most post-metal bands—the need to push boundaries and the ability to mesmerize while doing so.
Since post-metal explorers Isis disbanded in 2010, there have been a series of releases commemorating their venerable 13-year career. Label Ipecac released the Isis Live I to V collections throughout 2011, each CD representing a landmark live show, and now Temporal is in the world, a collection of remixes, covers, rarities and previously unreleased tracks spread over two discs, along with an accompanying DVD of music videos. Temporal is undoubtedly a fetish object, produced with collectors in mind, but it also has enough novelty to be of interest to casual fans.
During their 13-year career of erratic modulation from steely-eyed metal to starry-eyed post-metal, Isis released just five albums. That number feels, at least at first glance, surprisingly slight. Maybe that's because of the band's propensity for immersive and intricate tracks, which made each of those records feel like a new gauntlet or seminar that was to be endured and dissected, pondered and analyzed.