Formed: 1997 in Boston
Sounds like: The perfect distillation of earth-crumbling hardcore (Neurosis) blended with ’90s Chicago post-rock (the entire Thrill Jockey roster).
For fans of: Neurosis, Pelican, Mono, Mogwai, any acts on bassist Aaron Turner’s Hydra Head label, and thousands of young post-rock and metal bands that worship…Isis.
Why you care: In the late ’90s, few bands had successfully mined the sonic territory that San Francisco post-hardcore collective Neurosis had already perfected. Cynical scribes have subsequently labeled this the “NeurIsis” sound, which goes a long way to describe the similarly iconic stature in the hardcore, metal, and indie rock scene that Isis has achieved in a relatively short time. The group shot out of the gate with a series of aggressive EPs and a debut album that recalled the industrial churn of Godflesh, performed with a human touch. Sophomore album Oceanic was an artistic apex that found the group on Mike Patton’s label, touring with Mogwai, and subsequently collaborating with Adam Jones of Tool. Later albums Panopticon and In the Absence of Truth were simultaneously bland and highly popular with a new post-millennial audience that was discovering safer forms of metal. 2009’s Wavering Radiant was something of a return to form, marrying psychedelic exploration and crushing hooks. It also proved that the ceiling had been hit, and the only way for Isis to maintain its self-respect and grow significantly more popular was a classy breakup.
SEE IT: Isis plays its final Portland show ever (sure, sure…) at Doug Fir Lounge on Wednesday, June 2. 8 pm. $17. 21+.