Esoterica – Aseity (Forever Plagued Records)

Friday, 31st January 2014
Rating: 8/10

Seemingly perfect for a bleak, snowy day, Esoterica takes the cold aesthetic of black metal and runs with it.  Formed from the ashes of Chaos Moon, Aseity marks the first full length for the band, despite several demos and splits (notably one with fellow ambient crushers Aevangelist).  This is USBM that succeeds in being both abrasive and somehow strangely welcoming at the same time.

Of the six tracks presented, two break the 10-minute mark and offer the most unique feelings of the album.  Not that the other four tracks are slouches, simply “Fever” and “Lethe” provide a solid foundation for a direction the band should be encouraged to follow in the future.  Occasionally providing droning, trance-like atmosphere amidst the raw black metal fury could have been detrimental.  Esoterica succeed because the atmosphere works alongside the guitars as opposed to providing contrast. They also pull off the lengthy songs without resorting to either shoegaze or folky elements (which seem to be popping up like wildfire lately).  Instead, the atmosphere focuses on melancholy and the hypnotic.  The lengthier track times allow the songs to truly breathe, letting each second count instead of squeezing everything into a 4-minute window.

The remaining four tracks do also incorporate the above elements, just in a smaller time frame.  “Aether Communion” offers the most by way of atmosphere, providing for a strong and surprisingly soothing finish.  There is a bit more fury to be had with “A Slave’s Ablution,” “Womb,” and “Lessons in Forbidden Alchemy,” for those afraid that too much atmosphere will sour them.

Aseity provides a framework for which Esoterica can provide some compelling black metal that keeps its integrity in tact despite the inclusion of such ambient landscapes.  A solid debut, and a promising start for yet one more standout name in the ever-growing US black metal scene.

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