Isis - In the Absence of Truth (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


In the Absence of Truth (2006)


There's no doubt in my mind that if and when I write a year-end list next year I will have to include an "Albums that came out in 2006 but I didn't hear until 2007" list, just for Isis' latest masterpiece, In the Absence of Truth.

When Isis released Oceanic in 2002 they were praised for nearly perfecting the process of creating monstrous post-hardcore/metal that incorporates just as much Sigur Rós and Mogwai as it does anything that might usually find itself being reviewed on this site.

Isis continued to challenge listeners' minds as much as their head-banging skills on 2004's Panopticon, and album that saw the band pushing their limits even further, through vocalist Aaron Turner who explores his vocal range further than he ever did on previous work. While his growling "metal voice" still makes appearances, it largely seems to serve as a tool for emotion and juxtaposition than anything else, but I am certainly not about to tell anyone what Isis "means" by anything. This time around Turner's vocals lean heavier on melody and clarity than they have before. Fans of the band's much earlier work might not love it, but those who would have been turned off by such changes likely jumped ship a long time ago.

In the Absence of Truth's instrumentation is nothing short of stunning. In the past, Isis used long, slow build-ups before exploding into heavier territory. That still happens here from time to time, though not as frequently as one might hope/expect, although when it does occur it is nothing short of perfect, such as on "Dulcinia." The heavy moments of the album are still heavy as hell, but not as hard or fast. Isis' drums continue to pound the listener with a rhythmic and often tribal arrangement.

Many moments on In the Absence of Truth slow to a crawl, but it's the mid-tempo moments that take up most of the record that are the album's strongest. Through much of the album it seems as though the band is going to explode at any moments, but that rarely happens. If anything, things slow down more often than not. One might think that constantly waiting for a moment that doesn't seem to be coming would be frustrating. However, that simply isn't the case. Every note on the album is masterfully calculated and executed. It's an album that takes some time to properly sink in to allow the listener to explore the many hidden complexities that make up the album. It might seem like a daunting task, but go ahead, it's worth your while.