Last year, we were given a band that wasn’t bad by any means but still had plenty to prove. Esoctrilihum easily pleased with their debut album, but it left a lot to be desired. Given that it’s a one-man band and it was his very first album, I was willing to give the guy years to hone his craft. Turns out, I only had to wait barely half a year in order to see that not only has Esoctrilium been kept busy, but improving exponentially. A very welcome surprise, and what ensues is nothing short of mastery.
When your album’s cover art is as mind-bending as that one, you better be sure that the ensuing music can match in some regard. Esoctrilihum didn’t only match that art in the scope of excellence and wonder, but the sheer workmanship, improvement, intoxicating nature, and delicious darkness that we find within “Pandaemorthium” is more than anything I could’ve expected from this Frenchman. Just like how other acts such as Howls of Ebb or Tchornobog take their respective genres and take a very dark, twisted vision that’s just as satisfying as much as it is all-consuming, Esoctrilihum has taken black metal and made quite the spectacle out of it. The 68 minutes that fill “Pandaemorthium” create the very thing that many people fear, but those of us that never shy away from a listen that’s not only a challenge but also rewarding there is nothing to dislike about this marvel of a record. Esoctrilihum really did their homework, and it’s paid off as these eleven tracks are everything that happens when black metal is taken to extremes very few think to go to. And we’re given everything to boot; hypnotic rhythms that pull you all the way into the black, complex song structures that keep you guessing at every turn, an explosive attitude with a satisfyingly dramatic sense of timing, chaotic approach to literally just about everything, and an overall excellence that permeates every moment of “Pandaemorthium”. This is one of those wonders that even if you don’t know what the fuck is even going on it’s still a fantastic fucking thing to behold. I never thought I’d say that about Esoctrilihum, but this album is no less than a fucking surprise and I love it for that.
I absolutely love it when bands take their respective styles into their own hands to try and move away from the norm, yet it doesn’t always yield the best of results. Many bands fail to do it, but Esoctrilihum pulled it off without a single hitch. The entirety of “Pandaemorthium” is something that requires being heard at least three times with all of your attention because only then can you grasp what’s happening, and when you do you’ll become enlightened by a darkness you’ll only want to become closer with.
“Pandaemorthium (Forbidden Formulas to Awaken the Blind Sovereigns of Nothingness)” releases on February 23rd via I, Voidhanger Records!
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