Isis: Temporal – album review

Isis: Temporal (Ipecac)
Out: Now

Retrospective collection from post hardcore founders Isis manages to avoid the pitfalls which usually plague such compilations.

When Isis disbanded in 2010 they left the music industry having created an indelible mark upon the post hardcore genre. Not only were they (alongside Cult of Luna and Neurosis) forerunners of the melodic subgenre, but they managed to maintain a developing, fresh sound throughout.

With Temporal, Isis presents a 2xCD & DVD (or, alternatively, a 3xLP &DVD) set which spans their iconic and seminal career. This collection of demos, alternative takes and previously unreleased material alongside remixes and exclusive downloadable material manages to avoid the pitfalls of such releases, which oftentimes reek of laziness and cashing in. Neither of these attributes could be applied when it comes to Isis, for they were a consistently tenacious and exceptionally hard working band.

What Temporal does is neatly places together a great deal of material which was previously only available on limited edition splits (such as Isis/Melvins), or on long extinct demo tapes, allowing for a comprehensive and intriguing insight into the ongoing evolution of a band whose depth and complexity is a considerable rarity.

For anyone familiar with Isis, a summary of their overall sound is unnecessary, their ascending soundscapes create an otherworldly atmosphere in which to become lost and overwhelmed. Temporal would not, however, be the one to bring a newcomer to the dance. It would be strongly advised to start with Celestial (2000) and Oceanic (2002) before working your way forward throughout their career. They only released 5 studio albums, which seems somewhat sparse, but when it is taken into account just how essential and momentous those albums are, it all begins to make some sense.

Temporal is an insight into how all of this came together. Flashes of ideas and structures which made it onto the finished records make this collection an appealing puzzle for any Isis obsessives out there. It manages to draw the line between beauty and brutality in the inimitable way which Isis can and even though Aaron Turner was responsible for one of my albums of the year Old Man Gloom: No, listening to Temporal manages to solidify the long term affection which I have for Isis. Sorely missed, but a stunning collection to signify the end of a spectacular career, Temporal is just the thing to see you through the few dark months left of winter.

All words by Colin McCracken. You can read more from Colin on Louder Than War here. Colin also writes extensively about movies over at his website & you can follow him on Twitter.

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Colin McCracken is an Irish writer and cinematic obsessive who writes extensively about movies on a daily basis for his website He is equally passionate about vinyl (he used to run an independent record store), literature, live music and film soundtracks. He can also be found regularly on twitter as @zombiehamster.


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