Interview with Esoctrilihum | A Brief History of France’s Strangest Entity

Of the many bands that I’ve come across in the over six years that I’ve been doing this, Esoctrilihum is undoubtedly one of my favorite finds. The incredibly mysterious French act has become a name to know in the underground with at least one album every year since its debut back in 2017, and it’s been with each successive record after that we see Esoctrilihum continuously grow in awesome power. With the impending release of his fifth album, “Eternity of Shaog”, at the end of the month, I wanted to pick at the brains of one of the most fascinating bands that I’ve heard and he was gracious enough to allow a peek into his mindset.

Below after the interview, to celebrate five albums of madness I’ve given a brief history of Esoctrilihum as we know it going from one album to the next to provide summaries of just how much the band has changed and succeeded over the years. I cannot implore investigation of this band highly enough and to support as much as you can if you’re so inclined to.


Interview

Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview. Esoctrilihum is a very mysterious figure to those who are actually fortunate enough to listen to it, and as the name rightfully grows people are more curious to wonder who the creator is in all of your secrecy.

1. Of the menagerie of things that stand out to me about Esoctrilihum, it’s the band’s constant activity. Hell, in less than three years of existence you’ve released four full-length albums with a fifth about to be dropped! How do you even find the time to record everything or is it an “eat-sleep-create” scenario?

Hello, thanks for inviting me. As long as I have inspiration, I always find the time for it. I act and regulate my activity according to my psychic state, and not according to a predefined program, it is a fairly complex thing, because I am not able to predetermine my days, this inspiration constantly torments me.

2. I remember when I listened and subsequently reviewed both “Inhüma” and “Pandaemorthium” that I considered you were doing for black metal what Howls of Ebb did for death metal, but you’ve clearly grown into something much more than that! How do you feel about Esoctrilihum’s evolution over such a short time despite all the albums?

I think I went through a very trying path to get there because each album represents a particular mental state. For example, “Pandaemorthium” was composed during a particular phase and my ideas were not clear. I had sudden impulses that allowed me to create this album. “Inhüma” was a kind of stabilization, and it allowed me to avoid committing the unspeakable. So composing is not an easy process! I also think that Esoctrilihum has become more mature from year to year.

3. It goes without saying, for me at least, that the themes and content of each release seem much more intricate and malevolent than the last with “Eternity of Shaog” even having a slightly Lovecraftian feel to it. Where does the inspiration for all of this special madness come from?

Yes, actually, I find inspiration in despair, death, self-destruction, otherwise, my mind would use much more dramatic methods than music. I also read a lot about ancient civilizations having contact with the invisible via the medium of the celestial doors, which were opened accidentally on the world, like for example the tombs of certain pharaohs. I also make some reference to Clark Ashton Smith, another author who, like Lovecraft, knew some secrets about a certain race having decided to take various forms and various names to communicate their knowledge. I also base myself on some work by H.P. Blavatsky. Her understanding of the lower and upper globes from a chain of an earthly scheme is remarkable. Otherwise, I am inspired by my own experiences.

4. Melody seems to play a greater part in your newest effort than any other release before it with experimentation via acoustic guitars, a violin, and much more throughout the album. Was that an intended thing or something that just organically came about in the songwriting process?

Yes, indeed, it is a natural process. Sometimes when recording I clearly feel a kind of force that makes me add something new. Writing a new album is really unpredictable, which is why I think I can add anything that comes to my mind. I always liked to add melody or a melodic line, and in this album, I must say that it is much more present.

5. In the blurb for “The Telluric Ashes” on Bandcamp, it describes the album as a sort of lost link between “Inhüma” and “Pandaemorthium” which I very much agree with in many ways. How does “Eternity of Shaog” fit between all that in your eyes? Is it an extension of whatever was done in those releases or is an entity all its own?

I would say that it is a distinct entity compared to all that has already been done, because “Eternity Of Shaog” has a different atmosphere. I had other ideas in my head, and in addition for “Telluric Ashes …” the recording method was not the same. And I would almost say that “Telluric Ashes…” was also a separate entity compared to the other albums, it’s just that this album, in particular, was composed between “Inhüma” and “Pandaemorthium”, so I had almost the same state of mind, that is to say, plunge myself into endless darkness.

6. The underground scene has become far more diverse, especially in the past decade, with Esoctrilium being a perfect example of that. But what are some of your favorite acts or even record labels that you find yourself listening to whenever you have the spare time?

Yes, the scene of this decade is incredibly diverse. There are a lot of groups, so many that sometimes the most interesting pass under our eyes. Currently, I am looking for bands that have a very specific essence. The albums that touched me the most are “Esoptron” by Septic Flesh, “Marble Moon” by Nokturnal Mortum, “The Link” by Gojira, “Tara” by Absu, “Blodhemn” and “Ruun” by Enslaved. Regarding the labels, I look at what is happening on the side of Kuunpalvelus Records, Daemon Worship Productions, Hammer Of Hate Records, Nuclear Winter Records, and Godreah Records.

7. Experimentation is something that I prize very highly in bands since it can lead to something people have never heard before, but it’s something that’s not easily executed for obvious reasons. What’s something you’ve always wanted to experiment with in your material but either haven’t gotten around to yet or haven’t found a good excuse to execute?

Actually, I will mainly say that the experimentation is a fairly intuitive passage. Many elements are the result of our own will and raw emotions, this is why each is in his own way of creating. On the other hand, I don’t plan anything, so the inspiration concerning the experimentation reaches me in a fairly natural way.

Cover art for “Eternity of Shaog”

8. Three years is, more often than not, the “healthy” amount of time between albums that a lot of people give themselves just to keep their creative drives fresh or whatever reason they come up with. Yet, for you, as you know, you’ve done a lot between now and your first album. How do you feel about “Mystic Echo From A Funeral Dimension” when considering something like “Eternity of Shaog”?

Hmm, “Mystic Echo …”, is a totally different project from “Eternity Of Shaog”, because in 2017 I had a different state of mind, I was able to create an album reflecting my link with nature, and mystical energies. However, “Mystic Echo” also possessed a dark aspect which I then developed with “Pandaemorthium”. I stayed honest with my emotions while creating this album, and this is what I wish with Esoctrilihum. “Eternity Of Shaog” has another dimension than other albums, because I opened another gate to create it.

9. Just putting a finger on what Esoctrilihum sounds like is a maddening task in it of itself. What are some bands that have influenced such a crazy sound?

Obviously, I cannot deny that certain groups influenced me from a certain point of view. But I would like it to be known that Esoctrilihum does not seek to copy this or that group, because is not my habits. There are also other art forms that influence me in my work. But I try to keep a different guideline for each album and each song. Sometimes there is a frequency in the atmosphere that allows you to modify or change the sequence of your ideas.

10. I, Voidhanger has been your label of choice since album one, and I, personally, couldn’t have thought of a better pick given the label’s repertoire and your madness. Was it always the plan to sign with them or was it wishful thinking that turned out for the best?

No, at the beginning I did not want to sign my project with a label, and besides, I was hiding. I wanted to make my music in the shade, but I did not know that there was a label as good as I, Voidhanger Records. One day I started sharing my music on some groups just to see. And when I wanted to disappear, the same day, I discovered some labels by a certain medium. I sent requests to a few labels without knowing who they were… and I, Voidhanger was the first to answer. This is how it started.

11. There’s a promising but still relatively small scene for French metal, especially with black metal, that has loads of interesting acts with yourself and Ende being some personal highlights of mine. How do you feel France is stacking up with the worldwide scene?

I think that the French scene is developing. There are lots of bands that try to experiment with their sound with different aspects of extreme music. However I find that black metal, in general, remains a shadow music, which brings together all the passionate, and it has to be a minority.

12. Any idea for somehow another album within the next 12 months or will things cool down a little bit? Six albums in four years would just make my head hurt in the best way possible if I’m honest.

No, things are not going to calm down, I still have things in stock. I can’t stop!

13. There are so many things that are always going on in any given release that it’s impossible to know everything that you’ve done. What’s something that you’ve always wanted people to pay more attention to in your music?

Well, I would like people to give importance to the general feeling emerging after several minutes, and not to the material aspect, or to the difficulty of a song. When I listen to a song, for example, the sound quality or the production doesn’t matter, as long as there is something that emits very strong emotions, or positive impulses.

Yet again, thanks so much for the opportunity for me to pick at your brain. If things stay the way they are, “Eternity of Shaog” is on track to be one of my absolute favorite albums of the year which will be the second year in a row Esoctrilihum has done that! Thanks for everything and stay safe!

Thanks for giving me the floor!


History

The sheer number of bands out there in the world right now is no less than titanic. We could sit here and talk about ten or twenty albums a day every day for years and years, and we would still find ourselves not listening to even what’s like 10% of all the metal that’s out there. It’s a real cutthroat competition to make yourself known because you likely just can’t be good at your style anymore. Nowadays, a massive presence and big sound that delivers on every level is needed to present listeners with something that they can really latch onto and keep coming back for more on subsequent releases. Back in 2017, I never once thought I had found such an act when I sat down to listen to Esoctrilihum’s debut album. It was by no means a humble beginning as it was explosive by all means, but I feel confident in saying none of us could’ve ever expected what was to come next from the French act that has consistently raised the bar for himself on every single album, and there are no signs of stopping any time soon.


Mystic Echo From A Funeral Dimension

Of all the beginnings that Esoctrilihum could’ve had, this was one that simultaneously caught me off guard by its approach and splendor but gave not a lot in way of a peek into what future releases would hold. By far the act’s most black metal release, “Mystic Echo From A Funeral Dimension” still holds up after a few years to bring us something that we have most definitely heard before, but there was a special energy about it all that made the record feel like it had more to show than what was on the surface. It’s uncompromising, haunting gorgeous in many areas, and extremely unorthodox. It’s but an inkling of its soon to come successors, and Esoctrilihum has been a genuine gem of the underground world every since.


Pandaemorthium (Forbidden Formulas To Awaken The Blind Sovereigns Of Nothingness)

And then, “Pandaemortium” came. Much sooner than I was expecting and I feel much faster than anyone else was expecting with a massively different sound as well! Embracing the very weirdest and most brutal elements of the previous album, this one takes everything up to a completely different level in every regard from the songwriting to the background lore to the very presence. Esoctrilihum truly became something else in the process of writing this monstrosity and it shows in every explosive riff, monolithic entities that are summoned forth from the incantations of the vocals, and the altar against all life is built one rock at a time with each song giving something more to add to the occult process than the last. There isn’t a single aspect about this record that once alleviates the guttural pain that “Pandaemorthium” is constantly seeking out for its listeners, for it’s only through true pain and that suffering that we can become enlightened to see that which Esoctrilihum has burned into its psyche; a process that not many can survive.


Inhüma

If “Pandaemortium” was to open our minds to the concept of just one very Lovecraftian being that would drive you insane the moment you’re able to truly perceive it, then it’s with “Inhüma” that Esoctrilihum seeks to enhance our visions of not just one abominable deity, but to have us witness an entire cosmos of horror, madness, the most extreme of psychedelia, and have us cowering in fear with simultaneous bewilderment at it all. This was the most mind-being Esoctrilihum release to date, and the act did an absolutely exquisite job at bringing it all to the table in such a fashion that we can see what diving into the work would entail. It’s all but irresistible despite clearly having an end result that includes our souls becoming consumed. “Inhüma” quickly makes you realize that not only was this the heaviest work that Esoctrilihum had crafted up to that point, but the band had so much more to say and bring forth than what many other acts of the style could with so much style and grandeur that it’s all but tantalizing to witness from beginning to end.


The Telluric Ashes of the Ö Vrth Immemorial Gods

There were many things that I was expecting by the time I went to first dive into the fourth work from Esoctrilihum, but this masterwork was not one of them I will admit. “The Telluric Ashes” very much feels like a bridging point between albums two and three, and with all three releases being released within 15 months it really makes such a comparison feel much more appropriate. Everything that Esoctrilihum has done up to this point from ungodly riffs to the black/death mastery that only a rare few can ever produce to a visceral experience that never once cares for the lives of others has come together in peak performance to make “The Telluric Ashes”, yet again, Esoctrilihum’s most accomplished record up to that point. It’s extremely rare we see a band continuously skyrocket in terms of quality, style, and execution, but it was here that Esoctrilihum proved more than ever that it was an entity that both refuses to stay quiet for too long and will not take the easy road in the creation of new works.


Eternity of Shaog

Coming into the fifth release from Esoctrilihum, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t really expecting this effort to surpass “The Telluric Ashes”. It would simply be an absolutely monumental effort to do such a thing and take equal amounts of mastery to just keep the trend of quality going as high as it has been for years. Against all odds and virtually proving that Esoctrilihum is one of the truly great underground acts of the last few years, it’s with “Eternity of Shaog” that I find myself believing the act to have topped itself for the fourth time in a row. Much more melodic and with a more fully fleshed out cosmos but never once lacking in insanity or intensity. Everything about this record allows us to see Esoctrilihum at its absolute peak, and around its many corners, and through its many faces we can see the wondrous work of pure madness that has been crafted here. It becomes all but clear, more than ever, by the end of “Eternity of Shaog” that Esoctrilihum is everything that underground has been yearning for and this one-man machine is only just now getting started.

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