Underground Stalwarts or Shoegaze Infiltrators?Esoterica is a sneaky, sneaky band.
Listening to Aseity in the background, I was firmly convinced I was listening to some serious underground black metal. Specifically, the aggressive and highly repetitive, trance-inducing kind of black metal as mastered by the likes of Fell Voices. Of all the more accepted styles of underground black metal, that's easily my favorite. So I just enjoyed myself. But then the record neared its end, and I realized I was listening to something completely different. The transition was a subtle one. I didn't know it was happening. But it clearly showed me that this deserved more attention.
The strange trick Esoterica pulled along the way was in two steps. They began with a truer-than-thou black metal sound. The kind of sound that's usually limited to perhaps 250 copies on cassette and released by a band that has no promo photos and never plays live. They sounded like that band for the first two tracks. But they ended with a Pitchfork-approved shoegaze sound. The shimmering guitars of album closer "Aether Communion" would not be out of place on an NPR blog. Between those two extremes, they mix the two styles.
And I like it. I'm not sure how many of you are the right audience for this, but I definitely am. Check it out.
The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars