Isis – “Streetcleaner” (Godflesh Cover) (Stereogum Premiere)
Aaron Turner is in the business of breaking hearts these days. In 2010, he split up Isis, one of the most groundbreaking metal bands of the last decade. This year, he shut down his label, Hydra Head Records, which has been inarguably the best American metal label since Roadrunner was running off classic after classic in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Then he signs off on Thurston Moore joining Twilight? WTF!* And now he’s releasing Temporal, a two-disc, one-DVD set collecting unreleased Isis rarities, remixes, and videos, reminding us how good the band was in the first place.
We’re premiering one of the songs from Temporal today: a cover of Godflesh’s “Streetcleaner,” the title track from that band’s classic 1989 LP. Isis bring more muscle and heft to the song than Justin Broadrick, G.C. Green, and their rudimentary drum machine were able to provide, losing some of the original’s claustrophobic dystopian vibe in the process. Isis recorded their cover in 1999, a decade after Godflesh released the original, and a year before Isis’s debut, Celestial (three years before their 2002 breakout LP Oceanic). Alongside Swans and Neurosis, Godflesh are one of the few truly seminal post-metal bands, so it’s interesting to hear their music interpreted by the nascent band that would go on to become Godflesh’s most successful progeny. Give it a listen.
*I’m really not bothered by Thurston joining Twilight from some pedantic purist perspective — that dude loves the black metal, so he’s all right by me — but since you asked, I’ll give you my thoughts. First off, the band now has two releases, neither of which is especially memorable or rewarding. Second, they are already like the USBM Hall Of Fame Dream Team: Beyond Turner, they’ve got Blake from Nachtmystium, Stavros from Atlas Moth and Chrome Waves**, Imperial from Krieg, super-producer Sanford Parker (who also plays in Nachtmystium), fucking Wrest from Leviathan and Lurker Of Challice (who ALSO plays in Nachtmystium and Chrome Waves), and Malefic from Xasthur. Not really sure this kitchen needs another cook! On that note, the Twlight dynamic seems especially wrongheaded because most of the above-mentioned bands are, at their heart, one-man shows. Heck, both Malefic and Wrest were the subjects of a great Vice online documentary called One Man Metal, which you should watch. Here are parts 1, 2, and 3.
**And what’s really perplexing is the fact that Chrome Waves is sort of a JV Twilight, except that Twilight has yet to deliver anything as good as Chrome Waves’ debut EP, which they released this year.
01 “Threshold Of Transformation” (demo) +
02 “Ghost Key” (alternate demo version) +
03 “Wills Dissolve (alternate demo version) +
04 “Carry” (demo) +
05 “False” Light (demo) +
06 “Grey Divide” (demo) +
01 “Streetcleaner” (Godflesh cover, Recorded in 1999)
02 “Hand Of Doom” (Black Sabbath cover, Originally released on the Sawblade CD, 1999)
03 “Not in Rivers, But in Drops” (Melvins/Lustmord remix; originally released on Holy Tears, 2007)
04 “Holy Tears” (Thomas Dimuzio remix; originally released on NIRBID, 2008)
05 “Temporal” (Recorded in 2009) +
06 “Way Through” Woven Branches (originally released on Melvins/ISIS split LP, 2010)
07 “Pliable Foe” (originally released on Melvins/ISIS split LP, 2010)
08 “20 Minutes/40 Years” (acoustic version) +
DVD (official music videos)
01 “In Fiction”
02 “Holy Tears”
03 “Not In Rivers, But In Drops”
04 “20 Minutes/40 Years”
05 “Pliable Foe” +
+ Previously unreleased
Temporal is out today via Ipecac.