ESOTERIC — The Pernicious Enigma — the ultimate metal music online community, from the creators of

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4.32 | 12 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1997


Disc 1
1. Creation (Through Destruction) (13:13)
2. Dominion of Slaves (16:01)
3. Allegiance (11:50)
4. NOXBC9701040 (12:48)

Disc 2
1. Sinistrous (12:40)
2. At War With the Race (02:52)
3. A Worthless Dream (13:09)
4. Stygian Narcosis (13:17)
5. Passing Through Matter (19:15)

Total playing time 105:12


- Greg Chandler / Vocals
- Gordon Bicknell / Guitar, Synthesizer
- Simon / Guitar
- Steve Peters / Guitar
- Bryan Beck / Bass
- Anthony / Drums

About this release

Recorded at Rich Bitch Studios in Birmingham, England from July 9th to 26th
Mixed in October 9th through 15th, 1996.
Engineered by Steve Wilson and Esoteric.
Mixed and produced by Esoteric.
Mastered by Tom Kvalsvoll at Strype Audio Studios in Oslo, Norway.
Session drums on tracks 1, 2, 3, 7, and 9 by Anthony.

Thanks to progkidjoel for the addition and siLLy puPPy, Unitron for the updates


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Esoteric's most celebrated albums seem to be the ones where they go for the full-length two hour double album deal, and I can kind of see why that is. Their death-tinged brand of funeral doom metal is the sort of thing it's best to really bed down and immerse yourself in rather than listening to a snippet here and there. Even the occasional faster sections wouldn't really work as standalone death metal pieces, so tied in are they to the spacey aesthetic of the album (At War With the Race seems to be intended as a segue rather than a standalone compositions). With Greg Chandler's bestial moans submerged in the mix, his voice essentially becomes just another instrument - it doesn't actually matter what he's saying because all that matters is this haunting groan of someone or something struggling to be heard under six feet of soil.
If you were worried about being disconnected from reality for two hours in Esoteric's debut album, don't listen to 'The Pernicious Enigma'. If you do, you'll not only be disconnected from reality for two hours, but you will stay that way long after the music ends. However, to people like me, this is not a bad thing, and 'The Pernicious Enigma' is totally superior to Esoteric's debut. There are two CDs full of long songs here so let's get started.

"Creation (Through Destruction)" begins the trip...emphasis on trip. The opening chords are really spacey sounding and are the most dominant sound when the full music gets going. The keyboards are mixed into the dominant spacey sound to augment the atmosphere. This all goes on for four and a half minutes until the instrument lay off for a minute to let some vocal work in. These vocals are delivered in pretty much the same way they were in the previous album, but it's mixed up in a bunch of noise to make it sound more incoherent for a minute and a half until... SURPRISE SPEED SECTION! Yes, Esoteric. You are not a typical funeral doom band. When this speed section ends, the funeral doom riffing is apparent for the first time in the song; but the keyboards still add to the atmosphere, eventually getting replaced by a lead guitar's melody. There's another speed section not long after with a disturbing and furious guitar solo being played. This song isn't incredibly long to start out with. The speedy section shake things up quite well, but the drawn out atmospheric doom metal sections that pretty much are Esoteric's claim to fame are also present and highly appreciated.

"Dominion of Slaves" begins with a scary sample. When it ends, the funeral doom begins immediately with a spacey lead guitar. The guitar doesn't go on for long, but within the next few minutes there's plenty of ambiance and noise to mix up the funeral doom. The music goes on relatively unchanged for several minutes. Around 9:40, spacey guitars and noise come in with the spacey effect even going into the vocals a few minutes later. As the song enters it's final 3 minutes, the instruments get more intense sounding with the spacey guitar fading into a violin and back to lead guitar...unless it's all lead guitar. I don't care.

Next comes "Allegiance", which starts out with the feed backing from the previous track with some noise added on to make an initial effect. Sample, then funeral doom. Spacey lead guitar again, basically a staple for Esoteric now. The keys get really intense in the song's first section, but eventually take a break. The rest of the song plays out with just the amount of atmosphere as there was before: enthralling vast destitute, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

One more to finish off the album: "NOXBC9701040". This one contains no lyrics at all, but the sound of vocalization isn't totally absent. I can still hear Greg Chandler howling to an echoing effect whilst the instruments are played in a spacey style with no actual funeral doom style riffing in the song. This may actually may be the most trippy track on the album because of it. All the dissonance, ambiance, and noise are gaurenteed to disconnect you from reality like I warned about in the intro to this review. Listen to this while laying on a bed in a dark room. You will lose track of where you really are. Awesome right? It's why band like Esoteric are so great! It's all the fun of drugs without doing them!

But there's still another whole CD to be listen to!

Disc 2 starts with the fading in of ambiance with the atmospheric guitars coming in soon later. This marks the beginning of "Sinistrous", and the creepiness goes on without any orthodox funeral doom even when the vocals start. In fact, there are no funeral doom chugs until 3:53 while still going at the same pace the song was going before. The keyboards have this real hypnotic tone to them that they keep throughout the entirety of the song. It gets in my head! The rhythm is actually maintained for a good number of minutes until the song enters its outro.

To mix things up, we have a three minute long piece titled "At War With the Race". It begins with noise, and then a sample with a guy saying "I want a rifle. I want a bullet. I want weapons. I want anything that's going to kill my enemy." This is a mid-paced death metal piece similar to "Only Hate (Berserk)" on the first album. However, this is much more well executed as the jazzy influences are taken out.

Returning to the longer songs, next we have "A Worthless Dream". This song starts out with the spacey keyboards and guitars that should be familiar by now, but then goes off into a series of thundering plodding of funeral doom. The drumming is a little more atypical and the rhythm even makes it mid-paced. Then it speeds up to slow blast beats, before all crashing down to the slow despondent pace once again. This pace is maintained for the greater part of the song, but the variations in atmospheric elements do not break me from this trance.

What's in store for the rest of the album? Basically a continuation of the enthralling sound that you should already be experienced with by listening to the album up to this point. The songs are different, but describing them at this point is somewhat pointless. Just let it play through and find out for yourself what happens.

At the end, we have Esoteric. They have a very unique sound established with this album that they carry on with them with the rest of their works. If you care at all about funeral doom metal, you will get this album. Definitely.

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  • Psydye
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