Mystic Echoes from a Funeral Dimension by Esoctrilihum

Release date: July 28, 2017
Label: I, Voidhanger Records

I personally consider it important always to try and keep an ear out for mystic echoes of any flavour and variety, but especially those that emanate from funeral dimensions. And so, Esoctrilihum‘s latest release prominently suggested itself from the review pile, and upon closer inspection, the album cover and stunning band logo made further promises of occult forests, wyrd monoliths, and the odd spectres that might lurk in their midst.

The album crosses a range of black metal territories, from classic blastbeat ‘n’ growl pummelling, to frosty grandiose acoustic-ish embellishments, to bottom-feeding scuzzy riffs, to the mournful atmospherics of distortion-soaked tremolo passages. And this switching often takes place many many times in the course of a track, to bewildering and bewitching effect- for a band who seemed to have sprung into existence 23 minutes ago, the mastery of different shades of black metal auras is stunning. The only tiny issue is that perhaps it seems a little too hyperactive, with some sections denied sufficient time for the listener to actually sink into the inky cold air of the tracks. Rather than mystic echoes, the communication with the funeral dimension seems more like scrabbling through radio frequencies and channels of the various dark styles.

Some of the most enjoyable sections are the longer ones, or the ones in which the joins are more carefully considered rather than just abrupt stop and switch. A gradually shifting part towards the end of second track ‘Shtalosoth’ with a constant probing guitar line provides a sort of frame of sonic wires under which the vocalist can experiment with harsh growls. The transitions in ‘Mighty Darkness’ are brilliantly handled, where parts of the track are joined by a mixture of overlap and disjuncture. A raging opening minute suddenly switches into a murky, burbling swamp, but then equally instantly, the two parts are joined together, providing both continuity and interesting uncertainty. Later on in the same track, that slightly watery sound returns for a twilight-rainy-window atmospheric effect, and then the sound changes to a heavier crunch while the riff stays the same.  

In some other spots, the great ideas that seem to overflow in this record, are however bolted together with less consideration. ‘Infernus Spiritas’ has a nice groaning black metal grinding of the gears to get going, though the changes to the next sections are more severe. The band absolutely have the chaotic element nailed down, but could perhaps afford to treat some other bits with a touch more patience, in order to let the undeniably powerful auras of each passage bleed through to become truly arresting. A great debut, with the cover art a perfect accompaniment to the sounds: evocatively colourful within a dark palette, and featuring an oddly luminous weirdness that promises much to those who would venture in to join the spirits in the forest.

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