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Underground Stalwarts or Shoegaze Infiltrators? - 80%

FullMetalAttorney, April 8th, 2014

Esoterica is a sneaky, sneaky band.

Listening to Aseity in the background, I was firmly convinced I was listening to some serious underground black metal. Specifically, the aggressive and highly repetitive, trance-inducing kind of black metal as mastered by the likes of Fell Voices. Of all the more accepted styles of underground black metal, that's easily my favorite. So I just enjoyed myself. But then the record neared its end, and I realized I was listening to something completely different. The transition was a subtle one. I didn't know it was happening. But it clearly showed me that this deserved more attention.

The strange trick Esoterica pulled along the way was in two steps. They began with a truer-than-thou black metal sound. The kind of sound that's usually limited to perhaps 250 copies on cassette and released by a band that has no promo photos and never plays live. They sounded like that band for the first two tracks. But they ended with a Pitchfork-approved shoegaze sound. The shimmering guitars of album closer "Aether Communion" would not be out of place on an NPR blog. Between those two extremes, they mix the two styles.

And I like it. I'm not sure how many of you are the right audience for this, but I definitely am. Check it out.

originally written for

A Little Bit of Everything - 95%

dividebyfire, March 23rd, 2014

Being familiar with Chaos Moon, the band that preceeded Esoterica, and knowing a little bit about the style that band played, I wasn't sure what to expect checking out the debut album "Aseity." Starting 2011 after the Chaos Moon ended breifly, Esoterica picks up from where Chaos Moon ended stylistically; abrasive at times, but soothing at others. Aseity takes that formula and pushes it to create an almost polarizing album, which was released in 2013 on Forever Plagued Records.

The band on this album is made of up A. Poole, S. Blackburn, and G. Potenti, who are all in a wide varity of different projects, often sharing members. Track 1 begins with a quiet guitar intro but erupts into a fearce more tradition black metal track with an eerie ambience through out the song. It maintains a steady mid-pace blasting, creating an almost droning effect. Keep in mind, it doesn't get boring as their is enough going on in the track to keep things fresh. This track is a summary of how the first half of the album is represented; a blend of chaos and calm, creating a very interesting effect. This style is carefully used throughout the said portion of the album, introducing bits of eerie atmosphere when appropriate and ceasing it or addition variation when appropriate.

Half way through the track "Fever," there is a stylistic change which can be a bit hard for some people who are expecting a certain type of album. The tracks slow down for the majority, the ambience is poured on thicker, and it doesn't sound quite so evil or chaotic. Especially with the track Lethe, which sounds more like a Burzum swimming in a nebula than the Blut Aus Nordish insanity of the first half. It's very spacious and has an extremely hypnotic result, but it seems each repetition is different, keeping the listener interested. I'm not sure why they decided to do a 180 instead of maybe making two different albums, but I think it flows well as the overall sound remains true. Might not be true for someone expecting the album to sound a certain way and consistently follow that style. The album ends with "Aether Communion," which is a very shoegaze sounding track at times, which I felt was one of the highlights of the album.

The production on this album is very thick, suffocating, and very compressed. Which i'm not a big fan of and I think this held the album back a bit, it drowned out the power that lies within Aseity. Artwork and layout are designed well, nothing too flashy or out of place, but fitting with atmosphere of the album. A strong debut by this band and I am very excited to see whats in store for the future. Recommended for people into the current USBM scene and are looking for an album that covers a wide range of sound. Hightlights: Lessons in Forbidden Alchemy, Lethe, Aether Communion.

Mother Eagle wants her child back - 39%

Depersonalizationilosophy, March 9th, 2014

When I listened to both “Lessons in Forbidden Alchemy” and “A Slave's Ablution” I was ready to call “Aseity” as “In the Nightside Eclipse” done right. A. Poole, however, uses ambiance to appease the ears of the public instead of synth. But the main difference is A. Poole knows when or not to use these additional resources. The instruments along with the ambiance are well in-tuned with each other. I don’t feel myself riding along a spontaneous wave that disrupts the flow of my chi (so to speak). Then, we arrive at “Fever” where my vision of Esoterica rising to meet my theory fails. The prior songs built a certain idealistic perception about “Aseity”. But “Fever” dramatically ruined the sagacity.

Both “Lessons in Forbidden Alchemy” and “A Slave's Ablution” are dark and baneful compositions. Nathan Kite’s (a.k.a. The Many) mixing helped deliver a multidimensional listening experience as you delve into these tracks. These songs are spiteful. They seem to emit a force field akin to a stubborn entity that will not change in its darkness. The sound is primarily atmospheric black metal/ambient. In spite of that usually being quite the opposite of ABM, the mixing did alter the embodiment of these compositions. Both the vocals and ambience were secondary elements in the mixing. The rough recording qualities were foremost which made “Aseity” a difficult album to get into at first. But without these decisions both tracks would not have been as effective.

From “Fever” on, everything went downhill. I did not understand. When “Aseity” was completely heard I went back to the first two tracks and I still loved them. The album took a 180 and said “F you”. “Fever” is a decent song until it gets midway. The song immediately gets too emotional by exploring post-black metal elements. My brain de-synthesizes and I start to wonder what the heck happened here. As I move forward, I noticed a complete deviation from the prior groundwork I believed Esoterica had set. More of the same came its way and even the mixing could not save it from damnation. In fact, the mixing did not work at all for these tracks. The mixing felt like a brick wall was in the way and I could not see the affirmation of the musicians’ choices.

The guitars had significant meaning in both “Lessons in Forbidden Alchemy” and “A Slave's Ablution”. They had a proper, almost melodic black metal sound. But that’s not all. It was also infused with a low-tuned doom sounding anatomy. This gracious sound was taken away as it commenced. Without it, the album had no substance or backbone. It was simply a catastrophic mess. The riffs took a hippy and optimistic approach. “Aether Communion” was a complete bastardization of unlikable riffs and showcases everything that went wrong with this album. Mind you, even “Lessons in Forbidden Alchemy” had minimal illustrations of higher-pitched riffs. They, however, were used promptly and artistically. It made me realize that the black/doom-esque riffs were essential to the sound. Without them, the mixing failed to adapt and ran dry.

The only things that stayed constant were the vocals and the recording qualities (maybe bass and drums too?). Of course, with an abrupt change in everything the recording became a nuisance as well. But the vocals were nice. They were set in the background putting the “atmospheric” in ABM. They were almost like these half-growl, half-shrieks that were likable within the album’s duration. A. Poole had these nice screams too. They sounded as if someone had stolen a newborn from an eagle’s nest and the mother was enraged. Maybe the fledgling left because they didn’t like “Aseity” either?

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