Funeral doom is a genre which is often looked on with skepticism by the general metal crowd. It is certainly an acquired taste and is meant only for the one’s who carry an appreciation for slow and tormented sound-scapes which portray woefulness and disgust. It really is the ‘underground of the underground’ and only a handful of such entities are actually able to portray these somber emotions through their music.
The mighty Esoteric from
is one such entity which has been delivering ground breaking albums, instrumental in forming a stellar backbone of extreme doom metal from the last two decades. Delivering such quality music without compromise for such a long time is no joke, lads. They were influenced by the sepulchral aura which bands like Autopsy, Winter or Cathedral possessed but their personal wish was to create something more experimental and dark which shall never conform to any established boundaries. Ever since the release of their colossal debut ‘’Epistemological Despondency’’, Esoteric have been churning such experimental and extremely well carved releases for doom metal aficionados all over the globe. Great Britain
‘’Paragon of Dissonance’’ is the band’s sixth studio full length and it will be released by the reputed Season of Mist records as a double CD feature, like most of their albums with the exceptions of ‘’Metamorphogenesis’’ and ‘’Subconscious Dissolution Into the Continuum’’. It was one of my most anticipated albums this year and I am glad that my patience bore such a sweet fruit. I didn’t knew what more to expect after the massive ‘’The Maniacal Vale’’ left such a lasting impression on me. I owe a lot to that album for keeping me sane during an abominable period last year, where I had to deal with the unexpected demise of my father. That turbulent phase would have killed me from within if I didn’t have ''The Manical Vale''’s oppressive cacophonies extinguishing those scars which were marked forever on my soul.
I was astounded to see how the music reflected the exact feelings which I had at that time and it clearly left a lasting imprint on my existence. It left me asking for more and since then I started counting days for the release of ‘’Paragon of Dissonance’’.
After all the wait, I felt extremely ecstatic when I finally I received it from Greg and hurried to push the play button on my system. Lo and behold! The album opener called ‘’Abandonment’’ started with a massive riff whose heaviness could shy any death metal band around. I couldn’t believe what I heard as those psychotic guitar leads created a psychedelic miasma of impending gloom in my brain. It was such a monstrous cohesion of majestic leads and terrifying rhythms that my head shook in disbelief. My puny brain pondered a deep thought and asked a question from myself which read – ‘’How could something like this be even created?’’
Seriously, it left such a profound impact on me that I had to push the repeat button several times to ‘believe’ that my brain was ACTUALLY reverberating what was being played by my music player. This track itself consists of so many monumental sections, that you could easily start calling the album as a masterpiece without even waiting for the rest of it to follow. The dissonant yet melodic lead at the 6:00 minute mark might be one of the best moments in music which I have heard yet. Enter 10:00 and you get yet another stellar transition which envelops your mind with a double bass/lead laden frenzy and exits horrifyingly with a noisy outro which lasts for more than a minute. And this was only the first song!
‘’Loss of Will’’ started with a mournful piano introduction backed with slow martial drumming and wailing guitars. It was a subtle transition from the bombastic sounds which ‘’Abandonment’’ had unleashed. But it still painted a sorrowful image with its monochromatic and despondent nature.
‘’Cipher’’ started beautifully with a dexterously crafted lead which continued further to merge with an intense mid-paced section which boasted of hypnotic palm muted riffs and a crunchy double bass drum pattern to complement one another, before merging into another melodic lead. The rest of the track slowed down with the lead on 5:00 doing the talking for the rest 3-4 minutes, until it got devoured by a magnificent noisy ambiance which brought a grand closure to this stupendous track.
Three tracks down and ‘’Paragon of Dissonance’’ had already announced itself a worthy successor to ‘’The Maniacal Vale’’. After this, I couldn’t fathom what the rest of this opus had to offer.
If I wasn’t already exhausted with the combined might of ''Abandonment'', ''Loss of Will'' and ''Cipher''; ‘’Non Being’’ furthered my butt-kicking with an absolutely surreal introduction. A cosmic ambiance had enveloped my brain as the grandeur of its opening three minutes created a sorrowful atmosphere with the signature wailing of the lead guitars and ambiance. The next few minutes were encompassed with the guitars shredding mournful leads, something which is rather unheard of in a ‘funeral doom’ album. But then, Esoteric never restricted their art to the conventions of this genre. It felt as if I was listening to a guitar virtuoso playing the most depressive and haunting leads ever.
The rest of the track followed with mid-paced atmospheric rhythms until the incessantly heavy segment at 11:40 appeared. The triple guitar attack acted effectively in crafting an unfathomably heavy and down-tuned riff which plodded for the next few minutes. It felt as if I was being dragged into a maelstrom of sounds which were coming from deep within the earth, waiting hungrily to devour me as a whole. I had to put this track on repeat especially to experience the unbelievable last few minutes.
‘’Aberration’’ began with a sinister and dissonant guitar lead which was very abrasive in nature. It paved way for more progressive leads, whose intense nature reminded me of ‘’Caucus of Mind’’ from ‘’The Maniacal Vale’’. The later half of the track displayed more enrapturing leads which this album revels in. I was somewhat reminded of ‘’Ignotum per Ignotius’’ during the last half and was intensely satisfied with the surreal songwriting prowess which these lads had unleashed so far.
‘’Disconsolate’’ turned out to be yet another juggernaut of all the worthy ingredients which this colossal album had already explored. It started with a soothing atmospheric lead, backed with a gracious ambiance and then changed its tempo to a more mid-paced death/doom juncture. The guitar work has been extravagant here and it is even more varied and intense than ''Abandonment''. I couldn’t even gasp for air, while my jaw was being dropped after every passing moment on this whole track. This hallucinating experience was increased manifolds when the tremendous outro, reigning in a prodigious solo a la ‘’Circle’’ appeared.
Finally this epochal album neared its grand finale with ‘’A Torrent of Ills’’ which turned out to be the perfect choice for finishing the proceedings on ‘’Paragon’’. It was instrumental in evoking a doleful sound which could be easily complemented with ‘’The Scream’’ by Edward Munch as both these wonderful pieces of art depict a cathartic display of human emotions being ravaged by scene’s of chaos and desolation.
It took me a while to feel my pulse again after feeling like a lifeless embodiment of mortal horrors once I had finished my first listening experience of this monumental album. My whole body shivered with the feverish chills which had accumulated after this pensive apprehension. Words might not be able to describe what I had felt and it took me almost three weeks to get into the helm of this magnum opus and only now I felt in a position to jot this assessment for you all.
Esoteric have proved to be the flag bearers of extreme doom metal once again with this release and it would take several aeons for any band to come close to their might. They have been an example for many but only a few could actually dare to embark on a similar journey as them; a journey which goes far beyond the realms of infinity and explores such cryptic horizons which can only be deciphered and relished by a chosen few. There is only one astute entrance into this continuum where your sanity shall be crumbled and there is no escape from the cosmic horrors which constitute it.
If you happen to be among those who want to experience an unwholesome and spiritually altering aural voyage, then this is where you should begin.
Greg Chandler - Vocals, Guitar
Mark Bodossian - Bass
Joe Fletcher - Drums
Jim Nolan - Guitar