Isis – Temporal by Ben Spencer

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/Label: Ipecac records
Released: 2012

Band Line -up
Jeff Caxide: Bass
Michael Gallagher: Guitar
Aaron Harris: Drums
Bryant Clifford Meyer: Electronics, keyboards, guitar, vocals
Aaron Turner: Vocals, guitar

Album Track listing
CD 1
1.  Threshold of Transformation (demo)
2.  Ghost Key (alternate demo version)
3.  Wills Dissolve (alternate demo version)
4.  Carry (demo)
5.  False Light (demo)
6.  Grey Divide (demo)

CD 2
1.  Streetcleaner (Godflesh cover, recorded in 1999)
2.  Hand of Doom (Black Sabbath cover, originally released on the Sawblade CD, 1999)
3.  Not in Rivers, But in Drops (Melvins/Lustmord remix; originally released on Holy Tears, 2007)
4.  Holy Tears (Thomas Dimuzio remix; originally released on NIRBID, 2008)
5.  Temporal (Recorded in 2009) *
6.  Way Through Woven Branches (Originally released on Melvins/ISIS split LP, 2010)
7.  Pliable Foe (Originally released on Melvins/ISIS split LP, 2010)
8.  20 Minutes/40 Years (Acoustic version) *

DVD (Official music videos)
1.  In Fiction
2.  Holy Tears
3.  Not In Rivers, But in Drops
4.  20 Minutes/40 Years
5.  Pliable Foe *

Having been an avid fan of Post-Metal pioneers Isis from a late point in their career I was all too happy to give Temporal a spin. This record is an accumulation of various tracks spanning across their early releases and later tracks which came about just before their untimely departure in 2010 from the music scene.

Interestingly, they open with ‘Threshold of Transformation’, the last track from their final album Wavering Radiant 2009. Within seconds Aaron Turner’s grunt-style screams hail out in full desperation with muddy guitar riffs and heavy drumming before dispersing into melodic layering and distorted guitars. The lush ambience waywardly creeps into mid section before the visceral screaming and intricate drumming bounce back in full force.

Ghost Key, a personal highlight from the same album, plays out in its stripped down demo core. The spacey guitar effects resonate strongly within the intro whilst some almost blues lead overcasts like drifting cloud from above. The track speeds up with the accelerated drums before becoming pulled back down by a gravitational inflicting bass section.
The track also remains absent of vocals that were found on the finished version, but the intelligent lacing of melodies and effects shine more brightly without them, which gives your ears the chance to pick up new things that were less clear in the final mix.

The remainder of the first disc also offers a similar appeal to fans, with the sludgy tempo of ‘Wills Dissolve’ Panopticon 2004 and the dream-like aura of ‘Carry’, from Oceanic 2002, which comes with a guitar crushing crescendo.

The second CD is filled mostly with covers songs recorded by Isis or remixes that have been revisited by other artists of the band’s original work.

‘Street cleaner‘, a Godflesh cover, is loaded with grind guitar work that bleeds out in raw and pounding drums. Meanwhile, a rendition of Black Sabbath’s ‘Hand of Doom’ has also found room in this record. A strongly prevalent bass plays throughout along with guitar solos (something which has remained pretty much absent from the style Isis create with their own songs).

The remixes also work fairly well, in ‘Not In Rivers, But in Drops’ has an fresh texturing of obscure effects and multi-layered vocals colliding together in an interesting way.

The records title track , ‘Temporal’ fit’s the bill for any noteworthy instrumental/interlude that Isis have released in the past with a fuzzy interference running parallel to the guitar delicacies that reverberate back and forth.

Bringing it all to end, an acoustic version of ‘20 Minutes/ 40 Years’ shows a different and more sombre side than the original version which was off their last album. The acoustic strumming is fortified by clean guitar melodies and steady drumming.

The only thing that could have been better would be to have some clean vocals included, as it would have been interesting to see how Aaron Turner would have faired against a different use of instrumentation.

There is also a DVD with the package which features music videos from the band career such as the impressive CGI sequences of ‘In Fiction’ and ‘Holy Tears’ both of which stand out in their choreography and production.

All in all, this was quite an interesting listen and an absolute must have for die-hard Isis fans who are familiar with the original tracks. This is mainly because the album gives you a clearer understanding of where a lot of the band’s best music comes from and the remixes certainly put an interesting twist on the original recordings. If you haven’t heard the tracks listed you may not get quite the full experience of listening to Temporal.