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Panopticon

66 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 19, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

On ISIS' third full-length, the unblinking eye of counter-insurgency is exposed with mesmerizing stereophonic clarity. Ultra dynamic sound-design takes on the heighhtened dimesions of institutionally-induced anxiety, and the carefully constructed artifice of an omniscient predatory apparatus becomes the paradigm of surveillance culture. Meanwhile, panoptic cognizance, while ostensibly the outmost of all Orwellian implications, lends itself to far more insidious applications: Just as hidden crosshairs hold sway over every prison yard, to see everything is to know all.

1. So Did We
2. Backlit
3. In Fiction
4. Wills Dissolve
5. Syndic Calls
6. Altered Course
7. Grinning Mouths

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 19, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ipecac Recordings
  • ASIN: B0002Z83KC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,657 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Wheelchair Assassin on November 9, 2004
Format: Audio CD
If Isis's Oceanic established the band as an important and distinctive figure in the metal world, Panopticon is their effort to expand further outside the boundaries of that world, and it's a mighty successful one at that. If I had to come up with some frames of reference, I suppose I'd say Panopticon combines the lofty spiritual ambitions of Tool, the cosmic instrumental sound of Mogwai, and (at times) the plodding heaviness of Mastodon, but Isis still offer up a musical vision of their very own. Everything about this album is epic: epic music, epic vocals, epic arrangements, and above all epic song lengths. These guys are clearly out to test the listener's attention span, as this seven-track outing clocks in at about an hour. Compare this to Pig Destroyer's latest effort, at 21 tracks covering about 32 minutes, and you can see you're in for a harrowing listen.

Befitting their continued evolution, Panopticon sees Isis getting even better at tempering their metallic fury with some heavy doses of mellowness. It's hardly unprecedented for heavy bands to inject extended passages of relative quiet into their music (see Opeth), but Isis are still notable for just how seemlessly they manage to mix such disparate elements. Their songs don't just shift arbitrarily from one sound to another; they shrink and recede from heavy passages to lighter ones and back, managing to maintain a consistent mood whether they're coasting over you or pounding you over the head. Much like Oceanic, while Panopticon is divided into separate tracks, it's essentially one extended atmospheric piece, with a freeform structure that's even more conducive to exploration and experimentation than its predecessor.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By IcemanJ VINE VOICE on November 1, 2004
Format: Audio CD
With 2002's release of Oceanic, I knew this band was headed for something really amazing, if that wasn't it already. The way they had evolved from their previous albums kind of foreshadowed what their next album may bring. This album is significantly softer than previous releases, but I assure you it is still metal. You may have noticed Oceanic started this trend, with a little more clean vocals, some clean instrumental parts in the songs, and overall less total raw hardcore chaotic guitar madness. Panopticon continues with even more clean vocals as before. The clean vocals are rough and usually not so harmonious (but they have improved a lot since Oceanic), but they're best that way. And Isis' vocals are usually "behind" the music instead of "in front" of it, focusing more on the music. If you have Oceanic already, you probably know what I mean. Most of the album, like Oceanic, is instrumental (I'd say about three-fourths). This however has a lot more progressive, complex, unpredictable song structures, showcasing the band's pure evolution and intense depth. Even though the guitars are generally not as heavy, or heavy for as long, they have so much more depth and intricacy. There are much more post-rock like clean instrumental passages, for a sort of post-metal sound.

This vast masterpiece kicks off with "So Did We," which may be a candidate for one of my top 25 or 50 songs ever (Not that I keep track). It is probably the best new song I've heard this year, and personally my favorite Isis song so far. It reminds you that Isis is still metal by starting off with a pounding heavy riff and sudden hardcore-style vocals. This continues for a very short time until the heaviness abruptly stops and makes way for one of the best instrumental passages Isis have created.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By HallofGods on October 31, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Just heard this band on the recent Tool tour. Was very intrigued by their sound, and while they didn't really sound awesome live - given the number of instruments playing at the same time (or perhaps it was the venue) - I kind of figured out what they were trying to do. So I bought the album. I wasn't dissapointed.

Post-rock, post-metal, whatever you want to call it. I personally think that this is where rock meets metal. So if you like both, they you will like this album. It has clean and death vocals. Song structure is very progression oriented, with each song gradually building around an initial simple melody or tune or riff. They sound a little like Agalloch, with the latter being more metal oriented, but similar concept. People who like ISIS should try Agalloch's The Mantle.

I really like the first two songs a LOT. I have played them numerous times. The rest of the album is good, but not outstanding - that's why I've given it 4 stars.

As far as the vocals go, if you are a black/ambient metal-head, you won't understand what people are talking about when they say they are 'weak'. The guys growling on some tracks and singing clean on others. Granted he's no classical singer or anything, but vocals here are 'behind' the music, and should be viewed as another instrument.

This is definitely a must buy for those people who have listened to a lot of ambient oriented metal and like Tool and are looking for something new. Nice.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mallanoth on October 5, 2005
Format: Audio CD
September 29, 2005 - The day I first bought "Panopticon", I got home, popped it into my CD player, and pressed play. What followed was the most beautiful mix of cosmic atmospheric instrumentation and art-metal I have ever heard. So beautiful, that I was unable to remove the CD from my CD player for 5 days straight. 5 DAYS!!

Anyway, there is no best or worst song on "Panopticon"; all are thought-provoking and at the same time heavy in their own right. But I do have a couple of gripes: "Wills Dissolve" should have been longer (the intro takes up over half the song), as after the last musical section of the song, the song ends abruptly. Another 2 or 3 minutes would have done the song well. Also, the drumbeat on "Altered Course" sounds rather robotic, at least for the first half of the song, and, most importantly, there should have been at least 2 more tracks on the album. Its a shame that the album ended after just 7 breathtaking tracks.

I strongly suggest "Panopticon" for fans/lovers of Tool, Mastodon and Mogwai, it combines elements of all three bands. By the way, the CD still resides in my player, not coming out anytime soon.
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