Oceanic (Isis album)

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Isis - Oceanic.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 16, 2002
RecordedApril–May 2002
Fort Apache, New England
New Alliance, Massachusetts
ISIS chronology

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.[3] This performance was recorded and eventually released in 2009 as Live V. The track "Weight" was used in the 20th episode of the 1st season of the 2007 television series Friday Night Lights.[4]

Themes and concept[edit]

The album themes are considered to be an expansion on the bands 1998 EP The Red Sea, which includes themes of water throughout, death, emotional detachment, incest, and suicide.

Oceanic is a concept album (presumably told non-chronologically, or told through memories) about a man who, on the brink of emotional emptiness and numbness, finds a female counterpart who, prematurely, completes him (“The Beginning and the End"). However, he soon discovers that she has had a long-term incestuous relationship ("False Light", "Weight") with her brother over the course of the man’s relationship with her. ("Hym", "The Other"). After discovering this, it drives him back into his emotionally comatose state, and he subsequently commits suicide by drowning himself in the ocean.("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.[5]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[6]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[7]
Metal Storm9.3/10[8]
Rock Hard8.5/10[12]
Sputnikmusic5/5 stars[2]

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";[14] it has been described as "seminal".[15] As Ben Richardson notes in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the album's release "fomented an explosion of glacial, Neurosis-inspired instrumental 'post-metal'";[16] likewise it has been described as "the standard by which all post-metal albums have been judged since".[17] It has retrospectively been labelled a "masterpiece".[18]

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".[19] 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.[20] 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 number one album of 2002,[21][22] and in Drowned in Sound's "Our 66" introspective of the best albums of the past six years, it placed fifth.[23] Pitchfork Media ranked it as 2002's 31st-best record, rating it as having “more depth than its touted predecessor”.[24] It was greeted with great critical acclaim from not only niche magazines, but also from popular music reviewers, such as AllMusic.[6] In some ways, this release pushed Isis to the fore of their genre, and enabled them to branch out to new fans.[25] Beyond yearly accolades, it ranked fourth in Decibel's "Top 100 Albums of the Decade" special issue.[26] In 2017, Rolling Stone ranked it at #72 on their list of the "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".[27]

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.[28]


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 tracks are written by Isis.

1."The Beginning and the End"8:02
2."The Other"7:15
3."False Light"7:42
8."From Sinking"8:24


Release history[edit]

Date Label Region Catalogue number Format
September 16, 2002 Ipecac Recordings United States IPC-032 CD[30]
October 17, 2002 Escape Artist Records United States EA12.0 2×LP[31]
October 2002 Trust No One Recordings Europe TNO018 2×LP[32]
September 13, 2002 Ritual Records Japan HWCY-1109 CD
2007 Level Plane Records United States LP105 2×LP
January 22, 2010 Daymare Recordings Japan DYMC114 CD[33]


  1. ^ Jahdi, Robin (June 24, 2015). "The 40 best post-metal records ever made". Fact. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Hartwig, Andrew (January 16, 2005). "Isis – Oceanic (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  3. ^ Diver, Mike (April 3, 2006). "Literally OMG: Isis to play Oceanic in London". Drowned in Sound. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved January 23, 2008.
  4. ^ "27 – Artist Biography". Relapse Records. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  5. ^ Kelly, Scott (2006). "The Show". Combat Music Radio. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Serba, John. "Oceanic – Isis". AllMusic. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  7. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  8. ^ "Isis - Oceanic review". Metal Storm. August 18, 2005. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  9. ^ "Isis - biografia, recensioni, streaming, discografia, foto". OndaRock.
  10. ^ Deutschland, Ox Fanzine, Solingen. "Review". www.ox-fanzine.de.
  11. ^ Ott, Chris (September 22, 2002). "Isis – Oceanic". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  12. ^ "ISIS - Oceanic". ROCK HARD Heavy-Metal-Magazin.
  13. ^ Jarvis, Clay (September 1, 2003). "Isis – Oceanic". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  14. ^ Jahdi, Robin (May 8, 2009). "Isis: Wavering Radiant". FACT Magazine. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  15. ^ Savage, Milton (May 13, 2009). "Isis: Wavering Radiant". Drowned in Sound. Archived from the original on May 16, 2009. Retrieved May 23, 2009.
  16. ^ Richardson, Ben (December 16, 2009). "Some kind of mastodon". San Francisco Bay Guardian. 44 (11). Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  17. ^ Vulcic, Vuk (March–April 2009). "Isis". Rock-A-Rolla. No. 19. pp. 18–23.
  18. ^ Grigsby. "Isis – Panopticon". Tiny Mix Tapes. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
  19. ^ Wu, Brandon. "Review of Oceanic". Ground and Sky. Archived from the original on November 14, 2006. Retrieved November 9, 2006.
  20. ^ Thompson, Ed. "Review of In the Absence of Truth". IGN. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2006.
  21. ^ "Albums of the Year". Terrorizer. No. 104. November 2002.
  22. ^ "Terrorizer Albums of the Year 2002". Rocklist.net. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  23. ^ Diver, Mike. "DiS is 6: Our 66, the top six". Drowned in Sound. Archived from the original on November 28, 2006. Retrieved January 2, 2007.
  24. ^ Ott, Chris (January 1, 2003). "Top 50 Albums of 2002". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
  25. ^ "Isis > Biography" (Press release). Southern Records. Archived from the original on January 9, 2007. Retrieved November 11, 2006.
  26. ^ Stewart-Panko, Kevin (November 2009). "4: Isis – Oceanic". Decibel. No. The Top 100 Greatest Metal Albums of the Decade.
  27. ^ Christe, Christopher R. Weingarten,Tom Beaujour,Hank Shteamer,Kim Kelly,Steve Smith,Brittany Spanos,Suzy Exposito,Richard Bienstock,Kory Grow,Dan Epstein,J D. Considine,Andy Greene,Rob Sheffield,Adrien Begrand,Ian; Weingarten, Christopher R.; Beaujour, Tom; Shteamer, Hank; Kelly, Kim; Smith, Steve; Spanos, Brittany; Exposito, Suzy; Bienstock, Richard; Grow, Kory; Epstein, Dan; Considine, J. D.; Greene, Andy; Sheffield, Rob; Begrand, Adrien; Christe, Ian (June 21, 2017). "The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".
  28. ^ Martin, Jim (October 2004). "Review of Salvation". Terrorizer. No. 124. p. 68.
  29. ^ a b Oceanic (Media notes). Isis. Ipecac Recordings. 2002. IPC-032.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  30. ^ "Ipecac Recordings - Isis". Ipecac Recordings. Retrieved January 23, 2008.
  31. ^ "Catalog". Escape Artist Records. Archived from the original on August 15, 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2011.
  32. ^ "ISIS – "Oceanic" 2xLP". Trust No One Recordings. Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  33. ^ "商品詳細". Daymare Recordings. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved May 30, 2011.

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