Esoteric – Paragon of Dissonance (Season of Mist Records)

Saturday, 23rd March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Like eating sweets, funeral doom must be consumed in small doses. It can tire out quickly, can get boring rather fast, and can make one’s stomach churn and burn (like candy). Because Esoteric’s Paragon of Dissonance is being released around the same time as Mournful Congregation’s A Book of Kings, it makes it hard to differentiate the two. Yeah, there are subtle differences to the trained ear (like Blistering’s), but to the casual listener, both albums might sound what it’s like to die a slow, painful death…hopefully by not eating too many sweets.

At any rate, Paragon of Dissonance is the follow-up to the United Kingdom act’s very much successful The Maniacal Veil from 2008. And like its predecessor, it’s spilt into two albums (four songs on the first; three on the second) to account for the band’s long marches of death, another telling trait of funeral doom. Why can’t these bands write short, compact songs? Maybe one day we’ll get around to asking main Esoter-dude Greg Chandler that very question…

Going down the line, the album has some conventional lurch-and-crawl tracks like opener “Abandonment” and “Cipher,” both of which are extensions of what the band was doing on The Maniacal Veil. The company line makes a break for it though, on the melodically-pleasing “Non Being,” (love the opening sequence) and hypnotic and spacey “Disconsolate,” two songs that Mournful Congregation would never dare to attempt.

It is by this separation alone that puts Esoteric into a league of their own in the funeral doom metal world, as small as it might be. Paragon of Dissonanceessentially holds firm on the band’s long-standing funeral doom sound, while gradually inching toward new gateways, some of which are good enough to warrant further exploration. However, our money is on Chandler and company staying right where they are, neck-and-neck with Mournful Congregation, in a battle for who is the most destitute-sounding band on earth.

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