Sound — 10
Esoteric's Subconscious Dissolution Into the Continuum falls into the category of my favourite releases of all time. This is due in no small part to the second track, entitled The Blood of the Eyes. In just over 12 minutes of music the band managed to express eternal pain, infinity of time, crushing torment, Apocalypse and the horror of humans' inner psyche. An agonisingly beautiful lead over a bed of ambient subsonic rhythm section spirals around the first four minutes of the song, accompanied by some of the most expressive vocals found in doom, giving a despaired and haunting sound. The song continues to morph throughout, and most of the second half is devoted to devastating riffs, interlaced occasionally with echoes of the previous ambience. While this song is easily the highlight and core of the album, the other tracks are no less worthy of attention. The album opens with Morphia, a solid track that at the first listen may not appear to move beyond funeral doom's traditional boundaries. Upon repeated listening, however, the subtle atmospheric layers, intricately woven melodies and thick, low and heavy guitars make this song an absolute gem. Third track, Grey Day, is just as rewarding, it's minor scale-based intro sculpting a monument to nihilism that few bands have matched in musicianship and atmosphere. Throughout the whole recording, Esoteric manage to avoid stylistic clichs, making for a very original and enjoyable listen, as well as their best album to date. Fourth and final track, Arcane Dissolution, explores the ambient/industrial territory, more commonly found in the music of Funerary Dirge. Listening to it unaware, it is probably the creepiest song on the whole album, reminiscent of clattering bones and door slams in some hellish catacombs, evoking feelings of entrapment. It is a great closer that ensures the atmosphere and evoked images stay with the listener for a long time post-listening process. The production is essential in an album like this one, as it is often the marked difference between the gimmicks and genuine sounds of despair. It is a pleasant knowledge then, that the production here is immaculate. Every note is given it's space, and every instrument and vocal can be heard perfectly. The sound seems to flow from the speakers on it's own free will, seeping into the listener's ears and sucking one down with it. The ambience never sounds cheesy, and guitars and vocals are clear, despite low tunings and heavy distortion. Drums sound alive and thunderous, adding extra feel to the entire recording.
Lyrics — 7
Much can be said about the vocals. The techniques used are mostly familiar; shrieks and screams are reminiscent of ones of Olly Pearson on Moss's Cthonic Rites album. An occasional death growl also makes an appearance. What makes them stand out so much more are the execution, excellent production, and of course, the backing of the music. The intricate melodies and gentle ambience are an excellent contrast to the explosion of the vocals, making the sound fresh and original. It's almost surprising how well the two go together. Needless to say, the heavy parts of the album are incredible when it comes to the vocals with the music. Themes addressed are based both on occult and introspection. As a central theme, the subject is death, and the unravelling of the subconscious, which then flows into the stream of time. The lyrics also touch on nihilism, despair and hopelessness, themes that are usually found within these sorts of albums. At the same time, Chandler's lyrics are quite solid, if not literary masterpieces. Even though the music overshadows the lyrics in expression, they are still quite good The themes are interesting and intelligent. "Thinking man's music" that looks at our existence in a new and fascinating concept.
Overall Impression — 10
Incredible. As previously mentioned, this is one of my favourite records of all time, and easily the choice album of their discography. From the first note, it progresses through perfectly executed material, with some of the most beautiful music put on a record that surpasses the funeral doom classification. Production has always played an important part in the sound of Esoteric, and this record features the strongest production yet, as clarity reigns supreme. Comparing this album to their earlier work, the band has definitely progressed. Not as suffocating in delivery, the sound is much more open and aimed towards the ambient spectre, resulting in a more flowing delivery. The transitions between parts are better executed and the writing has progressed. It also gives the band a more unique identity; while fans of Moss and Pantheist can identify with this album quite easily, it is an album that defines the genre rather than fitting into it. Amazing work that should be heard by anyone interested in music.