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CD Review: Isis

Wavering Radiant (Ipecac)

Often labeled avant-metal, this Los Angeles fivesome really does defy definitions. Following 2006's In the Absence of Truth, the band's fifth album, Wavering Radiant, perpetuates Isis' explorative sonic landscapes, many of them instrumental. Guitarist Aaron Turner's voice is brought in as a mere accent, sometimes offering hoarse screams and melodic vocal lines. The seven-minute "20 Minutes/40 Years" carries you through what feels like an entire narrative without Turner ever uttering an intelligible word. The rest of the album's seven tracks employ similar arcs, most clocking in at upward of 11 minutes. The album is strikingly beautiful at many moments (see "Stone to Wake a Serpent") and callously aggressive at others. But it's the juxtaposition of sounds that allows the music to be so three-dimensional.

Emily Zemler

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