Tuesday 4 July 2017

Review: Isis – 'Live VII'

'Live VII'

At their creative zenith post-metal outfit Isis were unceremoniously overshadowed by the media's infatuation with a fundamentalist terror organisation whose name was hard to pin down but nevertheless usurped the US quintet's moniker. This toxic association has seen the band's thirteen year legacy unfairly swept aside. But with live album 'Live VII', we are reminded about just what an incredible unit they were.

The album document's their Australian performances in what would become their final year of activity. Already in this series we've seen some impressive recordings – case in point 'Live V' featuring 'Oceanic' in it's glorious entirety – but this is perhaps the most poignant of the releases. While long-time fans may crave more from the band, this feels very much like a line being drawn in the sand, with a sense of finality hanging above it.

The set is made up of the strongest cuts from the band's final full-length studio outing, 2009's 'Wavering Radiant', which of course this tour would have been promoting. Though the band dig into the catalogue for crowd pleasers such as 'Wills Dissolve', 'Carry', 'Holy Tears', and 'Celestial'. The band sound their grandiose best with the instrumentation clear and resonating in live ambience, the keyboards sound phenomenal as they slide in and out, but it has to be Aaron Turner's vocal performance which rings through clear, haunting, and at times downright savage.

There is a rough edge to the mix, but as a live document this doesn't really do the overall sound any damage. The reverb, mixed with the quiet, but still present crowd noise, and the sometimes gritty natural dissonance replicates the live atmosphere nicely. The band's performance is on point throughout, even with the notoriously hard to reproduce 'Holy Tears' and really shows a group at it's height.

It's a bittersweet album really. On the one hand it is great to hear the band sounding great in a live capacity. But it does serve to remind us that the prospects of any new original material are low. But still, 'Live VII' is an impressive document nonetheless and a fitting full-stop on what was a promising career cut short.  

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