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Global Domination | Reviews | Isis: Panopticon

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Isis: Panopticon

28/05/12  ||  The Duff

This is it, bitches. My favourite album of all time. If you buy this, you won’t need another record in your collection. Pussy will flock to you. Dollar bills will fall from your ass in one everflowing torrent. If you were stranded on an island, this, grilled cheese sandwiches and coconut oil would be all you’d need to lead a fulfilling life.

Isis’ “Panopticon” is the most perfect album I’ve come across. To say I’ve worn it down some would be an understatement, though – this one is for the truly special occasions, opening an aged wine, solitary nights left reflecting and walks along the seashore, and yet I could equally listen to it all day every day. It’s an honest mix of desperation, sorrow, loss, uplift and euphoria. Notice that I’ve only used one dick-joke thus far; that’s how all-business I am when it comes to Isis’ “Panopticon”.

The band’s latest album before this, “Oceanic”, is likewise seen as a classic post-rock album, but where Neurosis was found predominantly throughout at least six of the nine tracks presented, “Panopticon” focuses more on the density of chord progressions and less so the heavy riff-ahge, making it far more symbolic of the ocean’s fathomless depths, its likewise tossed and soothing nature and altogether complete mystery to us all.

Mixed with this are the peaceful, lulling sections as experienced on cuts like “Maritime” (off “Oceanic”) and altogether an increase of the healing, bolstering qualities of a track like “Weight” sans the angelic vocals of Mrs. Maria Christopher to accompany. The depressing sections on this disc are many, but always with something to rouse the listener just around the corner; such is the masterful structuring of an album that emotionally tugs you over a vast range of soundscapes, with thoughtful layering, profound arrangements and a vast musical richness.

Jeff Caxide shines the most as with “Oceanic”, interweaving parts through the alternating blurred (a thick and raw distortion boosted by obvious yet entirely satisfying keys) and serene guitars (truly ethereal cleans that play around, mesh and disjoin to temper the senses). The vocals of Aaron Turner have been reduced for atmosphere; instead of taking the lead spot of aggro, they are brought back into the mix and left sounding haunting and tortured, pained and the most expressive we’ve heard from the man.

A lush production, the equivalent to Tool’s “Lateralus” in that every instrument plays a leading role yet never dominates, a concept album about The Panopticon philosophy and soothing artwork make this an exceptional purchase that transcends genres, simply a mindset that I can experience time and time again.

This album is one of two to score an 11 in my eyes next to Ulver’s “A Quick Fix”: Cum. So much cum!


  • Information
  • Released: 2004
  • Label: Ipecac Records
  • Website: Isis MySpace
  • Band
  • Jeff Caxide: bass
  • Aaron Harris: drums
  • Aaron Turner: vocals, guitars
  • Mike Gallagher: guitars
  • Bryant Clifford Meyer: samples, vocals
  • Tracklist
  • 01. So Did We
  • 02. Backlit
  • 03. In Fiction
  • 04. Wills Dissolve
  • 05. Syndic Calls
  • 06. Altered Course
  • 07. Grinning Mouths