Oceanic (Isis album)

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Oceanic
Studio album by Isis
Released September 17, 2002
Recorded April–May 2002
Fort Apache, New England
New Alliance, Massachusetts
Genre Post-metal, sludge metal, progressive metal
Length 63:20
Label Ipecac
Producer Isis, Matt Bayles
Isis chronology
SGNL>05
(2001)
Oceanic
(2002)
Panopticon
(2004)

Oceanic is the second full-length album by American post-metal band Isis, released on September 17, 2002 by Ipecac Recordings. On November 4, 2014, a remastered edition was released via Hydrahead/Ipecac Recordings.


On July 23, 2006, Isis performed Oceanic in its entirety at KOKO, Camden Town, London as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties curated Don't Look Back series.[1] This performance was recorded and eventually released in 2009 as Live V. The track "Weight" was used in an episode of the 2007 television series Friday Night Lights.[2]

Themes[edit]

The album reintroduces the water and female themes of past releases the Red Sea and Celestial through a story: A man at the brink of emotional numbness finds a female counterpart who completes him ("The Beginning and the End"). However, he soon finds that she has had a long-term incestuous relationship ("False Light", "Weight") with her brother ("Hym", "The Other"). This drives him to lose all hope, and he commits suicide through drowning ("from sinking sands, he stepped into light's embrace").

The entire story is described by frontman Aaron Turner in a radio interview and in more nebulous terms in the album's booklet.[3]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[4]
Orlando Weekly Positive[5]
Pitchfork Media 9.1/10[6]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars[7]
Stylus A-[8]

Its style marks a distinct departure from their previous sound; up until this point, Isis had been characterised by crushing, distorted guitars and a coarse, unforgiving tone. With this album came the introduction of lengthy periods of clean guitar, large amounts of ambient noise and female vocals; a notable post-rock influence, first hinted at on SGNL>05 and Celestial. This transition was retrospectively labelled by FACT's Robin Jahdi as "one of the more eye-opening musical metamorphoses of the decade";[9] it has been described as "seminal".[10] As Ben Richardson notes in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the album's release "fomented an explosion of glacial, Neurosis-inspired instrumental 'post-metal'";[11] likewise it has been described as "the standard by which all post-metal albums have been judged since".[12] It has retrospectively been labelled a "masterpiece".[13]

As one reviewer notes, the album is in "a place somewhere between metal and hardcore and post-rock, a place where crunching guitars and hoarse, tuneless vocals and slow spaciness all converge and create something big and mean and delightful".[14] The change of style proved trying for some long-standing fans, but beneficial in garnering a greater fanbase and the Neurosis-Godflesh comparisons began to weaken. The eschewing of sludgecore elements, and increased focus on atmospherics and post-rock elements whilst still retaining metal and hardcore elements led to the album being labelled by many as post-metal, and essentially as being the genre's progenitor.[15] Some critics attribute it to having truly formed the genre, out of a previously nebulous definition. This leaning, in the direction of post-rock, was greeted with great critical acclaim; the presence of female vocals proved popular with many reviewers, and songs featuring those vocals are generally seen as stand-outs. Those songs include "The Beginning and the End", "Carry" and "Weight", all of which feature Maria Christopher of 27.

Oceanic was named Terrorizer's number one album of 2002,[16][17] and in Drowned in Sound's "Our 66" introspective of the best albums of the past six years, it placed fifth.[18] Pitchfork Media ranked it as 2002's 31st-best record, rating it as having “more depth than its touted predecessor”.[19] It was greeted with great critical acclaim from not only niche magazines, but also from popular music reviewers, such as Allmusic.[4] In some ways, this release pushed Isis to the fore of their genre, and enabled them to branch out to new fans.[20] Beyond yearly accolades, it ranked fourth in Decibel's "Top 100 Albums of the Decade" special issue.[21]

Some fans and critics will point out that the album had a notable influence on the metal/post-rock scene in the years following. In 2004, Cult of Luna released Salvation; taking a similar stylistic departure from previous LPs Cult of Luna and The Beyond as Oceanic took from preceding albums SGNL>05 and Celestial. The band itself cites Isis as an influence, and a review in Terrorizer posits that Oceanic covered "fairly similar aquatic terrain" as their release Salvation.[22]

Remixes[edit]

The album was remixed in a series of four vinyl EPs, named Oceanic Remixes/Interpretations Volumes I-IV and released on Robotic Empire Records in 2004 and 2005. Contributors included Mike Patton, Venetian Snares and Justin Broadrick. These tracks, and an additional track by Tim Hecker, were compiled into a two-CD release on Hydra Head Records, entitled Oceanic: Remixes & Reinterpretations.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Isis. 

No. Title Length
1. "The Beginning and the End"   8:02
2. "The Other"   7:15
3. "False Light"   7:42
4. "Carry"   6:46
5. "-"   2:06
6. "Maritime"   3:03
7. "Weight"   10:46
8. "From Sinking"   8:24
9. "Hym"   9:14

Personnel[edit]

Release history[edit]

Date Label Region Catalogue number Format
September 16, 2002 Ipecac Recordings United States IPC-032 CD[24]
Escape Artist Records United States EA12.0 2×LP[25]
October 2002 Trust No One Recordings Europe TNO018 2×LP[26]
2002 Ritual Records Japan HWCY-1109 CD[citation needed]
2007 Level Plane Records United States LP105 2×LP[citation needed]
January 22, 2010 Daymare Recordings Japan DYMC114 CD[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Diver, Mike (3 April 2006). "Literally OMG: Isis to play Oceanic in London". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 23 January 2008. 
  2. ^ "27 – Artist Biography". Relapse Records. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Kelly, Scott (2006). "The Show". Combat Music Radio. Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Serba, John. "Oceanic – Isis". Allmusic. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  5. ^ http://www.orlandoweekly.com/music/review.asp?rid=9080[dead link]
  6. ^ Ott, Chris (22 September 2002). "Isis – Oceanic". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  7. ^ Hartwig, Andrew (16 January 2005). "Isis – Oceanic (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  8. ^ Jarvis, Clay (1 September 2003). "Isis – Oceanic". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  9. ^ Jahdi, Robin (2009-05-08). "Isis: Wavering Radiant". FACT Magazine. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  10. ^ Savage, Milton (2009-05-13). "Isis: Wavering Radiant". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  11. ^ Richardson, Ben (December 16, 2009). "Some kind of mastodon". San Francisco Bay Guardian 44 (11). Retrieved 24 March 2011. 
  12. ^ Vulcic, Vuk (March–April 2009). "Isis". Rock-A-Rolla (19): 18–23. 
  13. ^ Grigsby. "Isis – Panopticon". Tiny Mix Tapes. Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  14. ^ Wu, Brandon. "Review of Oceanic". Ground and Sky. Retrieved November 9, 2006. 
  15. ^ Thompson, Ed. "Review of In the Absence of Truth". IGN. Retrieved December 18, 2006. 
  16. ^ "Albums of the Year". Terrorizer (104). November 2002. 
  17. ^ "Terrorizer Albums of the Year 2002". Rocklist.net. Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  18. ^ Diver, Mike. "DiS is 6: Our 66, the top six". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved January 2, 2007. 
  19. ^ Ott, Chris (1 January 2003). "Top 50 Albums of 2002". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  20. ^ "Isis > Biography" (Press release). Southern Records. Retrieved 2006-11-11. [dead link]
  21. ^ Stewart-Panko, Kevin (November 2009). "4: Isis – Oceanic". Decibel (The Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of the Decade). 
  22. ^ Martin, Jim (October 2004). "Review of Salvation". Terrorizer (124): 68. 
  23. ^ a b Oceanic (Media notes). Isis. Ipecac Recordings. 2002. IPC-032. 
  24. ^ "Ipecac Recordings - Isis". Ipecac Recordings. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  25. ^ "Catalog". Escape Artist Records. Archived from the original on 18 April 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  26. ^ "ISIS – "Oceanic" 2xLP". Trust No One Recordings. Archived from the original on 31 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  27. ^ "商品詳細". Daymare Recordings. Archived from the original on 31 May 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2011.