Archive Review: Isis – Oceanic

Album: Isis – Oceanic

Release date: 9/17/2002

Label: Ipecac Recordings


My first experience with Oceanic came in late 2002 when I came down with a 103 .1 fever. It was the last time I had ever been so sick I hallucinated. As I laid in bed shivering and my bedroom started enveloping me, I listened to this album on repeat for two days straight, letting its waves cascade and entomb me as my mind wandered aimlessly through each seamless transition. Truly this is a remarkable piece of work and I do not suggest hallucinating by any means while listening to it, but the experience in doing such while ill allowed this album to have a more significant impact on me than if fully conscious and sober.

Seldom do bands come along that release such bold, creative music that truly speaks to the soul the way Isis does. If Isis has taught us anything within their past three albums, it’s that an album can be more than an album. In fact, this review will ultimately reference the band’s album more than the band itself, as it has become an entity all its own. Oceanic, the middle child of the band’s three glorious full-lengths (Celestial being the first and Panopticon being the third) is the quintessence of such an idea. Much like being caught in an undertow and drowned into the abyss before resurfacing, Oceanic captures the listener in a thematic journey that reaches over an hour of epic proportions. Oceanic is a tsunami of sound; an orchestra of guitars, vocals, and drums that gradually melt into one another and become an oxymoronic, droning staccato that carries the listener through a plethora of emotions. Like a rolling wave, the music is almost always on a crescendo, starting on a simple note that is continuously built on before crashing into forte. The album’s end takes each sub-theme previously built upon and triumphantly explodes into a C chord that echoes into infinity.

The majesty of Oceanic fails to capture the right vocal expression to best describe itself. All I can do is reiterate how truly bold of an experience this album is. Metalhead, prog-nut, art-school kid, classical-genius, throw away all classifications; this is a recording that everyone must hear, at least once. You’ll never see things the same. Oceanic is the clinic of the everlasting power of music. Oceanic is my favorite album ever released.

Best track: Weight (10 minutes of surreal magnitude)

Star Rating:

10 out of 10 stars