Let’s Argue About Whether This Isis Demo Is Better Than The Album Version
Upon its release in 2009, Isis’ swansong Wavering Radiant received a perfect 10/10 rating from Decibel Magazine. Was that rating deserved against the band’s lauded back catalog? I’m certainly not as well versed in Isis’ history as the Decicats and some of my fellow MS staffers — and I know there are factions of Isis lovers out there who’d fight me to the death in defense of Oceanic as “all-time greatest Isis album” — but I say sure, why not? Wavering Radiant was as dynamic, well-structured and enrapturing as anything the band’s ever done and it marked a perfect coda for their career. They quit at just the right time.
So it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that I’m really into the demo version of Radiant track “Ghost Key” that’s currently streaming at Pitchfork. The demo, from the forthcoming retrospective release Temporal (November 6, Ipecac), is a whole lot like the finished product save for two big things: 1) a rougher sounding mix/production, and 2) it hasn’t got any vocals. The lack of Aaron Turner’s howl places the emphasis squarely on what makes Radiant so interesting: the music itself. With all due respect to Turner, a fine frontman and (ex) label boss, you guys know how I feel about vocalists in metal; hearing “Ghost Key” as an instrumental track, to me, amounts to hearing it in its truest, most pure form.
Stream it at Pitchfork, stream the album version via YouTube, and then come back here and tell us what you think. The demo track was recorded in the band’s Los Angeles rehearsal space by Aaron Harris and Aaron Turner in 2007.