It seems like everyone is covering Joy Division’s “Isolation” these days. (That or John Lennon’s song of the same name.) The second track from Joy Division’s second and final album feels extremely appropriate to our times. Even if singer Ian Curtis’ lyrics don’t map directly onto our self-isolating/physical distancing world, it’s still easy to see why people find resonance in the song. And it’s not just the lyrics – the droning bass, the eery too-high synth melody and clicky electronic drums make it feel as though Curtis really is trapped somewhere unpleasant.
Wino (aka Scott Weinrich of iconic doom metal bands The Obsessed and Saint Vitus) did not actually record “Isolation” because of the pandemic. He’s been playing the song in concert for years now and created this studio version for his latest solo record. So he was well ahead of the trend. Wino’s version is Americana as filtered through his metal background. There’s still the droning guitar, though it is less pronounced. Lots of guitar overdubs give the song an almost Appalachian feel until the chorus kicks in. The chorus is notably heavier than the rest, like barely contained doom blues, with drums you’d find in a metal song but none of the metal guitar.
The result feels almost like a new song. With plenty of solos and a backwoods-cum-metal feel, it’s a far cry from the original and the kind of thing you’re more likely to bang your head to than mope along with. And we all need some fun in our lives right now.