ESOTERIC
"A Pyrrhic Existence"

(Season Of Mist)

01. Descent
02. Rotting in Dereliction
03. Antim Yatra
04. Consuming Lies
05. Culmination
06. Sick and Tired

RATING: 8.5/10

If you've ever wondered who the heaviest band of all time is, you might want to consider ESOTERIC as strong contenders for the title. If not the inventors of funeral doom metal, then certainly the band that have taken the genre furthest into the fathomless cosmos. The Brits have amassed a substantial but sporadic catalogue of albums that have each offered a wickedly immersive take on slow-motion sludge and the darkest of ambience. While not exactly fun to listen to, depending on how many drugs you've taken recently, ESOTERIC albums are always a very physical and cerebral experience. Imagine a giant sensory deprivation tank designed by H.R. Giger: well, this is what your shadowy overlords will be piping through the PA as you descend into watery madness and the doors snap shut.

To say that ESOTERIC have a recognizable sound would be slightly misleading, because despite nearly always travelling at snail's pace, this band's surfeit of brilliant, skewed ideas has never been in doubt, and their mastery of disorientating texture and tone has only grown over the decades. In fact, much of "A Pyrrhic Existence" showcases a more highly evolved sound than anything they have released before. With six songs that take a daunting 98 minutes to play out to their bruising conclusion, this is an album that demands commitment, but it's so full of ingenuity and near-tangible otherworldliness that it may exert a black hole-like pull on listeners of a more adventurous disposition.

As opening statements go, 27-minute opener "Descent" is fairly outrageous, both in terms of its length and due to its remorseless, nihilistic undertow. When Greg Chandler's vocals burst through the fog at the three-and-a-half-minute mark, it's like the voice of some fearsome, hateful deity resounding through thick storm clouds to the Earth below. Riffs expand and contract, twisting into new forms but never straying from a dogged forward and downward crawl. ESOTERIC's wall of guitars and subterranean bottom end never conform to funeral doom-type either: eight minutes into "Descent", a blizzard of whited-out black metal erupts, sodden with reverb and churned beyond recognition, and then you realize that there are still 19 minutes to go and we're still on the first track. The rest of the album sustains that startling level of invention and willful obscurity and, as you sink further into the miasma, starts to feel like a truly defiant salute to indulgence in an age of short attention spans and blank-eyed narcissism. This is heavy stuff, without question.

As I said, "A Pyrrhic Existence" requires commitment, but if you want to hear a devastating doom record that will truly dismantle your soul and hurl it into the blackest of transcendental cauldrons, ESOTERIC remain one of the few bands on this godforsaken planet that always deliver.

COMMENTS

To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).