Esoctrilihum plays unholy music inspired by chaotic visions of an unknown dimension. Well, that’s what it says on this one Frenchman outfit’s site. Nothing is known about Asthâghul, Esoctrilihum’s sole member, but it doesn’t stop him having a web site.

The track and indeed album titles suggest a mystical journey and are helpfully accompanied by “themes”. So the theme of “Ancient Ceremony from Astral Lands” reads: “From the vast celestial expanse to hidden dimensions, the remains of shadows await their salvation, restored by the keeper of the 13th mystical gate”. The mystical beginning of this track gives way to a volley of furious black metal. A haunting symphonic wind whistles through the background. Spooky and dark as it is, I couldn’t see the point of the last two minutes of “Ancient Ceremony from Astral Lands”. It didn’t take us any further than we were. Dark fury and turbulence then abound on “Following Mystical Light of the Shadow”. In the background there is echoey moaning. Half way through it breaks for a shadowy guitar piece before descending briefly into the sound of dripping water. Symphonic black metal bursts in and it resumes much as it started before the shadowy guitar work returns. “Prayer of the Lamented Souls” then represents the “eternal cycle of pain from the unholy past”. It is bleak and repetitive.

If we were ever in any doubt that this albums was for tortured souls, “Infernus Spritas” begins. Black, thundery and atmospheric, it explodes into raging blackness. The theme now is described thus: “The abomination has taken hold of my mind, destroyed by this empty world of stupidity. I am nothing but a worm, reproached and despised by mankind. In the dust of death you put me down. And in misfortune and bitterness I can no longer weep for what I have really become”. Black clouds and distant roars epitomize this disturbing and angry nine minute piece. As a listener, it’s impossible to intervene in all this turbulence. “Shtalosoth” is no less monstrous.

I read that “Mystic Echo From A Funeral Dimension” is “an esoteric voyage towards nocturnal and silent landscapes illuminated by the cold moonlight” and “explores the obscure lands existing between dream and death to unveil the unfathomable secrets that tie Nature and Man together”. As I listened to “Shtalosoth” I reflected that I was in a harsh, nay brutal alien world so I guess I can relate to these descriptions. It’s not monotone, and there is transformation but to me it’s more a depiction of a harsh world than the more poetic bond of nature and man. It’s very lonely and frightening place in fact. “BltQb” is violent. The drum crashes down and there are roars of pain. It’s like the chain gang has been set to work and monsters have descended to tear us apart. The theme of “Shtalosoth” matches this one better: “From the depths of the earth, the malevolent winds of nothing will cross the flesh to amass sadness and hatred, and to annihilate the empire of renewal. From nature and the majestic plains will come the power to decimate all the human creations”. “Mighty Darkness” is depicted as “the fall of lost hope”. After all this, I’m not sure there was any hope. It has been drained away by this murderous battering, which if anything has intensified over the course of this blackest of black works. The long majestic end and whistling winds are merely an ending. My overriding impression was of black fury and destruction.

Undoubtedly there’s plenty of creative imagination here on “Mystic Echo From A Funeral Dimension”. It’s obscure and dark, but above all it’s so harsh that if there is anything mystical about this, it was hammered out of my system.

(6/10 Andrew Doherty)