Esoteric: Subconscious dissolution into the continuum
14/08/12 || The Duff
I don’t know anything about Esoteric’s early days, although I’ve spun through the “Pernicious Enigma” the once to see what all the fuss is about. Clearly it didn’t have time to settle, not least of all because of the real hostile production job, but reviews and fans alike have said that it truly is one of the most frightening albums of the funeral doom sub-genre, less melodic and entrancing than later efforts but rather almost entirely comprising hopelessness, nihil, derangement and vitriol.
I myself, for the sake of making a name as a journo-mastermind, would coin Esoteric as PSYCHOZESEMATIC doom metal, but then having skipped everything up to “Metamorphogenesis”, perhaps the sense of loss and desperation only crept into their sound around this record, the band’s fourth.
“Subconscious Dissolution into the Continuum” is the fourth offering from the band to the present date comprising just the one disc, and basically plays like the first half of “The Maniacal Vale” with three epic-length tracks and a brief unwinder at the end although the closer is entirely atmospheric and not the death metal doom platter of “Caucus of Mind”.
Perhaps because of the more unyielding nature of past efforts, this record doesn’t sit too well as the peak of Esoteric’s exploits thus far with fans, but from a subjective perspective I’m finding this record just as strong as the masterful “The Maniacal Vale” and less demanding an effort at that. This album has pretty bits on top of the shit-your-pants and losing-the-marbles parts, and honestly, I believe this works best for funeral doom, the contrast of light and shade. It’s all depressing, for sure, but without the sense of escape, something a touch more elating than complete and utter despair there’s little cause taking a venture that lasts anywhere between forty and a hundred minutes when the survival rate is guaranteed to be so dire.
In true masterful doom fashion, the band launches into depressing leads that set the stage, the roiling thunder and madness that is to ensue. I’ve actually given up smoking these days, and it’s surprising how much more positive it’s made me, and really, this music is for some pretty down-and-out fuckers for sure.
The guitars alternate between dreamy to weighted to sparse, accompanied by fat-ass, dirty bass and thundering drums, and of course, the icing on the cake, the versatile vocals of Greg Chandler. Of course, I say versatile, what I mean to say is many different shades of tortured and worn the fuck down by life; a mix of high wretches and low death metal gargles. The mix is both visceral and beautiful, a true exploration of the sense of self and all that; hyperbole aside, if I didn’t know myself any better I would say funeral doom to be the psychoanalyses of music.
In conclusion, with “Subconscious…”, Esoteric were well on the way to setting themselves as probably the masters of funeral doom. Revisiting this record makes me want to go back to “Paragon…”, a disappointing album for me personally because I failed to understand how such a mastery of the senses as found on this and the double-album follow-up, “The Maniacal Vale”, could be so easily misplaced.
This is an essential purchase, and I fail to comprehend why fans of the band object to it (unless it’s that ‘subjectivity’ bullshit everybody raves about). “Blood for the Eyes” is an absolutely staggering mix of heart-welling, hopelessness and ominous, everything around it almost just as comprehensive a melange of down-hearted, schizophrenic, bizarre, twisted, absolving and demolishing. The opening to “Grey Day”, for example will have you just staring… staring and thinking where it all went wrong. A must-have, a great introduction to the band but also for fans who may’ve stepped around it for the response of puritans.
- Released: 2004
- Label: Season of Mist
- Website: Esoteric MySpace
- Greg Chandler: vocals, guitars
- Gordon Bicknell: guitars
- Steve Peters: guitars, bass
- 01. Morphia
- 02. The Blood of the Eyes
- 03. Grey Day
- 04. Arcane Dissolution