Although rooted heavy metal and the punk/hardcore aesthetic, Isis' music relies just as heavily on ambience, atmosphere, and tone as it does complexity and aggression. Not so much a band per se as a musical collective, the members of the Boston-based quintet layer their compositions with feedback, power chords, quiet/loud dynamics, and vocals that are sometimes shouted, frequently screamed, and occasionally sung. The band was formed by Hydra Head Records owner Aaron Turner, who was hoping to combine the minimalism of Earth and the Melvins with the experimentalism of Godflesh, backed by the depth and power of the band's most obvious musical counterpart, Neurosis. It was the union of Turner with bassist Jeff Caxide and powerhouse drummer Aaron Harris that formed the core of the Isis project in 1997. The band recorded a demo that year with guitarist Randy Larson, garnering the attention of Escape Artist Records.