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Album review: Isis' 'Wavering Radiant'

May 18, 2009 |  9:11 pm

Isis Heavy metal always has been about extremes -- nailing double-kick flurries, spinning yarns about mythical beasts or boiling the genre down to pure white noise. The L.A. band Isis never played that game. The quintet has worked in fine lines, particularly the ones between menace and allure, coyness and urgency.

Its new album, "Wavering Radiant," is built on moments where a rib-cracking riff dissolves in a well of reverb, then returns as a pulse-quickening melody or a spectral effect.

Take "20 Minutes/40 Years," where pretty, pained guitar  smacks into Aaron Turner's guttural moans. Or "Hand of the Host," where a distant tremolo effect is as crucial as the North African lead lines and deep-water bass.

Some bands use studio trickery like an instrument, but Isis' straightforward tools avoid baroqueness even when the band is throwing deep.

-- August Brown

"Wavering Radiant"