Forward-thinking post-metal band Isis’ 2000s run of albums is nearly unparalleled, and after their first two beloved albums, Celestial and Oceanic, were reissued in the past couple of years, now it’s time for their third, Panopticon. Time has been kind to the album. Its focus away from sludge and pure metal toward post-metal landscapes foreran bands like Deafheaven who would go on to explore similar territory. On songs like “So We Did,” a huge opening of cathartic noise gives way to heady exploration, while the ratio is tilted the other way on songs like “Backlit,” which uses its space-out passages to build to glorious bouts of all-out fury. Panopticon often challenges the notion of a metal album—how much tripped out atmosphere can you have before you deliver the riffs? Songs like “In Fiction” prove the wait is always worth it—they build extraordinary anticipation they build over five minutes of watery expanse before crushing distorted guitars come in, playing simple, straightforward riffs that could sound tired, were they overused, and instead sound revelatory. Panopticon is said to be built on around Jeremy Bentham’s notion of the same name, of a circular prison with no windows and a central observation tower, and how it relates to modern society—surveillance, the Internet, etc. While evocative, the notion sometimes feels contradictory to the music housed on Panopticon. However, that shouldn’t be read as a criticism of the album; rather than feeling claustrophobic or submissive, Panopticon feels very much alive to the possibilities within metal, and music in general.