(Andy Synn wrote this review of the self-titled album by The Isolation Process from Stockholm, Sweden.)
Wow, my current slate of potential reviews for NCS is pretty packed. Alcest, Obscure Sphinx, Mesarthim, Départe… a triumvirate of awesome British bands you guys might not have heard yet… the new album by the prolific An Autumn For Crippled Children… another edition of The Synn Report on a band who not only just released their fourth album, but who ONLY sing clean… the last quarter of 2016 is looking pretty packed already, and that’s not even taking into account all the other releases – big and small – set to hit the (digital) streets in the next few months.
So why the hell am I pushing all that aside to cover an album that’s now over two and a half years old?
Because I’ve fallen head over heels for it, and just can’t stop listening to it. That’s why.
Now if you take a cursory trip through Google looking for “The Isolation Process reviews” you’ll find a solid handful of write-ups, mostly from early 2014, most of which are generally wrong.
Not in the sense that they say this is a bad album. It’s definitely not that. But more in that 90% of the reviews are filled with vague comparisons to other bands which are – at best – often a bit of a stretch (and tell you far more about the biases of the reviewer than anything else), all the while completely missing the biggest and most obvious point of comparison it’s possible to make.
In fact it’s only really our compatriots over at Angry Metal Guy who seemed to get it right. Because, let’s face it, if there’s ONE band that The Isolation Process sound like… it’s Paradise Lost.
Yes, the majority of this album is akin to a Swedish doppelganger of Edmonson, Mackintosh, et al, circa their landmark Draconian Times album, except beefed up with the meatier guitar tone and crystal-clear production of their more recent material, and mixed with some of the more melancholy melodic moods of their mid-period deviation into Depeche Mode worship.
Heck, singer/guitarist Thomas Henriksson often sounds like a better-trained Nick Holmes, with a truly sublime and confident clean voice which occasionally hints at a Maynard James Keenan-esque melodic quality, as well as a beefier, dirtier singing style that practically pulses with gritty, gothic emotion.
The thing is, for all these obvious similarities in tone and style, The Isolation Process (completed by bassist Anders Carlström and drummer Patrik Rydbrand) don’t just sound like a lesser derivative of the Halifax heretics. The sheer quality of their material makes sure of that.
In fact, I honestly think I prefer this album to anything from PL’s comeback. Which I’m sure is some sort of blasphemy around these parts, and I fully expect BadWolf to jump down my throat as soon as he reads this.
But whether it’s chug-heavy and hook-laden opener “A Simple Gesture”, the majestic melancholia of “Underneath It All”, the gigantic riffs and phenomenal vocals of “The Dead End”, or the groaning, doom-tastic monolith of “It Will Burn” – or any of the album’s other stunningly emotional, powerfully dynamic numbers – there’s no denying that this is one hell of an album, whichever way you slice it.
Fans of Tool, The Great Cold Distance-era Katatonia, and, yes, Paradise Lost, should definitely pick this one up ASAP, as The Isolation Process are currently hard at work on their second album, and you’ll want to be able to tell people you were into them before they got huge, right?