In the Absence of Truth (Ipecac)

Shimmering guitars? Check. Throbbing bass lines? Check. Vocals like a trapped bear's howl? Check, check, check. Despite some electronic trickery here and there, In the Absence of Truth is unmistakably an Isis album. From the slowly rising feedback that opens "Wrists of Kings," to the last jangling chord of the closing "Garden of Light," the band is bringing more of the same. So is this album really necessary? To many ears, Isis peaked with Oceanic and its associated remixes; Panopticon was monochromatic, beloved mostly by folks coming late to the party.

This, Isis' fourth full-length, is the most diverse to date, but in the process of adding new facets to its sound, the band winds up reinforcing self-imposed limitations. Isis' music is not about catharsis, which is a big problem for metalheads or anybody else looking for a reason to get worked up. No matter how loud the guitars get, they always sway gently, never crashing or exploding. Isis has already toured with Tool; if the band keeps pushing this stoic, we're-above-rocking-out shtick, it'll be opening for Coldplay soon.

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