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In their image 

Alt-metal gods Tool lift Isis out of the underground

click to enlarge So much for being underground.
  • So much for being underground.

Some bands find enjoyment in booking opening acts that challenge their fan base to widen their musical horizons.

Having named Isis as supporting band on its current 10,000 Days tour, Tool apparently isn't one of them. Literally 30 seconds into Isis' new album In the Absence of Truth, which is due out on Halloween, you'd swear it was Maynard James Keenan and the boys who were getting down and dirty into some heavy alt-metal darkness.

Isis keyboardist/guitarist Clifford Meyer isn't worried that the often overzealous and let's be honest, loyal to the point of insanity Tool minions will find such a similar vibe and motif sacrilegious.

"I don't think anyone is going to throw a tantrum and if anything, it makes us play a little bit harder," says Meyer, during a phone call to his Los Angeles home. "We're just going to have to go for it and see what happens."

What is happening to Isis is arguably the biggest opportunity the Boston band, which calls Los Angeles home, has experienced in nearly a decade of existence. The underground alt-metal act will be playing for a larger audience in one night than it's played during entire past tours.

After befriending the guys in Tool when Isis moved to Hollywood three years ago, whispers and rumors circulated that the obscure band would get the opening nod for Tool on its next tour. Conjecture became fact when the booking agent called earlier this year.

No matter what happens to Isis in the future, Meyer understands the next month of dates will forever change the band.

"I think to be honest, I think it's going to be one of those things where now we're just going to be a band that's just a little bit too popular to still be underground but not big enough to be, like, a real big band," Meyer says. "So we're just going to be caught in this little limbo in between. But I think it's probably best because we can just still kind of call our own future and do whatever the fuck we want."

The doing-what-they-want mantra is evident on In the Absence of Truth, which is a follow-up to its critically acclaimed 2004 release Panopticon. The new album is the band's most focused to date, crafting dark emotions with distorted guitars and thanks to keyboardist Meyer creepy ambience.

Standout tracks include "Wrist of Kings" and "Not in Rivers, but in Drops," where time and space are filled with monumental moments that just beg for headphones to be fully experienced. In reality, In the Absence of Truth appears to walk a fine line between more accessible rock elements and alt-metal leanings.

"I think [singer Aaron Turner] is singing a lot more now," Meyer says. "And the melodic guitar parts have a lot more substance in them, and aren't just ... meandering."

In case you can't read between the lines, the meandering comment signals that Isis is being less self-indulgent and more into giving each song its required amount of chops. The same restraint to let the song speak for itself can be said about the band's current set.

"There won't be any crazy pyrotechnics or anything," Meyer says. "We'll leave that up to the Tool guys."

capsule

Isis, with Tool

Coors Amphitheatre, 6350 Englewood Plaza Blvd., Englewood

Wednesday, Aug. 30, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $35-$55; call 520-9090 or visit ticketmaster.com.

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