"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Isis

Formed: 1997
From: Boston, MA, United States
Last Known Status: Active

Background

Isis is a doom-fusion group currently residing in Los Angeles, CA (US). They have borrowed from and helped to evolve a sound pioneered by the likes of Neurosis and Godflesh, creating heavy music consisting of lengthy songs that focus on repetition and evolution of structure. As such, a great range of musical labels are used to describe their sound, including avant-garde metal, post-metal and experimental rock. Several sessions of experimentation in origin town Boston, Massachusetts led friends Aaron Turner (guitar/vocals; also the owner of Hydra Head Records and its subsidiary, HH Noise Industries), Jeff Caxide (bass guitar), Chris Mereschuk (electronics/vocals) and Aaron Harris (drums) to form Isis in late 1997. As Turner states, "Isis formed as a result of the dissatisfaction with past bands of the founding members [Aaron Harris, Jeff Caxide, Aaron Turner, and Chris Mereschuk]. None of us were happy with what we were doing musically at the time, two of us lived together, we had similar tastes and similar record collections." Isis released a demo and their first EP, Mosquito Control, in 1998, with this line-up. After an East Coast tour in the summer of 1998 where they were joined by Randy Larsen of Cable on guitar, Mereschuk left the band. Jay Randall (now of Agoraphobic Nosebleed) soon replaced him, working on Red Sea (1999). However, his stay would not last; this ultimately led to the addition of Bryant Clifford Meyer of The Gersch as well as former Cast Iron Hike guitarist Mike Gallagher in 1999. After releasing their debut full-length entitled Celestial and its sister EP, SGNL>05 (on Neurot Recordings), in 2000, Isis gained national underground attention in the metal/hardcore scene through tours with Cave In and Neurosis. Isis remains with this lineup to date.
Turner has gone on record saying "I like the idea of preserving at least a little shred of mystery and making the band to be more an entity—without hopefully sounding too pretentious — as a work of art [than a traditional rock band]".There is a definite attitude that art and music are interchangeable and synonymous to the band; he feels that "the songwriting and the artwork come from the same place".This logic relates to visual and aural aspects as well as overt intellectualisation, through literary references and driving philosophies.Books such as Don Quixote, House of Leaves, Labyrinths and the philosophies of Jeremy Bentham all play a role in shaping the themes of Isis' releases.

There is an overt intention of progressing heavy music present in Isis' output; a desire to further the intellectual cause that pushes them forward.This is evident within the clear progression of their sound from release to release, their influence on heavy music, and their acceptance in art circles where other metal bands are not so readily embraced. Their stated goal is "not to break away from the scene that [they] came from, but to expand upon it". Publications such as Terrorizer attest to how Turner has completed his goal, explaining that "Aaron Turner has loosened hardcore from its geographical roots, and in the process created an intimate, yet immeasurable vision all of his own". Turner has complained that "metal in general has long been unjustly maligned as solely the province of knuckle-dragging meatheads...That said, there's never been a group of musicians like there is now, who are helping to advance the form."

Below is a summary of Isis coverage and information on Metal Underground.com.