“Playing anything new tonight?” “Nope not yet!” That’s generally how it has gone the last few times I have seen Esoteric live and I can appreciate this. It might have been 2011 since last album ‘Paragon Of Dissonance’ dropped but work of this scope and magnitude takes time to compose. Besides has anyone ever managed to completely get to grips with the group’s recorded output to date entirely? If you say you have you are probably lying, hell I sometimes wonder if those playing it have. Anyway whilst we wait Aesthetic Death are kindly continuing with lovingly reissuing the back catalogue on vinyl and here we dip back to 1997 with second album The Pernicious Enigma.
The double album has been lovingly committed to 6 sides of hefty wax here and the triple gatefold sleeve opens to all manner of artwork, inserts and the lyrics to mess with your head along with the music. We are dropped into the mind melting doom dementia that the band are accustomed to with first track ‘Creation (Through Destruction)’. I have on various occasions described Esoteric as “the scariest band on the planet” and with the hideous shrieks reverberating from founding member Greg Chandler’s lungs, there is nothing that is going to sway that opinion. Playing it now for the first time in a while it feels like a black hole has opened up as the psychedelic void spits out strange sounds and contorted riffs. Naturally I have this on CD already and have not played it in a while. It’s an experience that feels like it takes several days to achieve (in actual fact 2 hours) and it is not something to go into without thinking carefully about what you are going to do to yourself. Akin in my mind to watching a particularly nauseous and unsettling “death trip” movie. As everything tumbles down a vortex and gallops off into a doom death gallop it sounds gorgeously hefty on the vinyl and glistens and glitters in all the right places, capturing the shimmering guitar chords between the heft and ballast, the radio-phonic type sound effects and those horrendous vocal contortions.
Reading the notes between the songs, the story of being on the road and recording this is not without incident, vans on fire and guitarist Steve Peters breaking his leg not once but twice (the first time falling down a manhole while taking a piss). It’s almost as though some dark force was unleashed due to what they were musically doing. The album has now been remixed by Chandler at his own Priory Recording Studio and sounds the way it was originally intended. This will not be a track by track review, that would be stupid. The first number has only just finished in the time it has taken to write this and they are anything up to nearly 20 minutes in length each, although one sticks out as being under 3. It’s very much an album of intricate compositions that are played by people truly doing something completely unique and different from anyone else you can name. I guess you could look towards some Krautrock and some of the intense psyche fluttering ala Hawkwind to get a sense of where it is coming from along with hallucinogenic substances but unless you have experienced Esoteric on album or even better live you have no idea just how to comprehend the scope of what they ultimately deliver. As the second track ‘Dominion Of Slaves’ opens with a strange sample I’m going to dispense with the words and completely drop down a rabbit hole of my own and listen to the rest of this. If you feel like experiencing the black hole of space in musical form grab one of the remaining 599 copies of this via your Aesthetic Death Dealer below!
(9/10 Pete Woods)