After the twin giant steps of Oceanic and Panopticon, you might criticize In the Absence of Dreaming as being too safe a bet (like the band themselves have done). But then again, who doesn’t take a second to enjoy the view after climbing a mountain?
And the view here is spectacular. Absence doubles down on the glacially paced post metal they had spent the previous two albums exploring, except here they finally feel at home in it. Isis feels comfortable here, but that needn’t be mentioned pejoratively. Rather, it shows a mastery the group has obtained after years of hard study. Which isn’t to say this is Panopticon pt. II. There are moments of fury here unlike anything on its predecessor (like the double bass pedaled finale on the opening track). There are also a few electronic experiments, and more rhythmic games than they’ve played before. It’s not as monumental a leap forward as Oceanic or Panopticon, but honestly, it might be even more enjoyable than either.