Isis Celestial

Isis Celestial
8
Back in 2000, "metalgaze" and "post-metal" were not yet words; it was a good time, and U.S. Neurosis-lovers Isis dropped their debut full-length, Celestial, upon an audience of hardcore and metal fans (mainly the former, although the latter came to know and love them) were ready for something new. On this album, which has been out-of-print for some time (after being released originally by Escape Artist), ten-minute opener "Celestial (The Tower)" laid down the groundwork for everything that would follow in Isis's career: muted chords, huge swells, some sensitive fellow tinkering away with the atmospheric what's-its on keyboards and the sense that something huge is happening. The rest of Celestial followed suit, a collection of songs that, when listened to together, formed not so much an album as an experience, one that smart listeners were attracted to immediately. On the reissue, you receive new art, but no bonus tracks, which is exactly, 100 percent the way it should be. Leave greatness alone — get James Plotkin to remaster it, sure, but apart from that, leave it alone. With later albums, the group expanded their sound slightly, getting mellower and learning that a softer touch can sometimes crush more than huge sludge chords, but on Celestial, you get the excitement of an act crafting something new, something huge, for the first time. And despite many of us never wanting to hear a single metalgaze or post-metal band ever again, artists like Isis and releases like this will always sound great. "Deconstructing Towers" still totally crushes all in its path, the album's centrepiece tune holding its own very well after all these years, proving that some simple chords and feedback are a timeless combo. (Ipecac)