After a gap of eight years, legendary doom act Esoteric have returned. The band’s strain of crushing, suffocating music has lead the way in funeral doom since their first album was unleashed in 1994. On A Pyrrhic Existence they return with a colossal double album spanning 98 minutes of huge, awe-inspiring monolithic doom songs.
This album is slow (mostly), deliberate, and bleakly atmospheric. The songs gradually unfold with layers of dark distortion, easily drawing the listener away from the real world and down into Esoteric’s foul underworld.
Moments of lightless ambience and tsunamis of void-black noise can be occasionally found amid the sea of crushing riffs and guttural growls. Otherworldly synths and grim melodies enrich the music’s mournful mood, providing extra depth and substance to already weighty music. These moments, ideas, and enhancements add increased texture to the band’s songwriting, helping to hold attention throughout a long album. It would be easy for an album of this length to start to repeat itself, but each song has its own character and personality, and each has something different to offer the listener.
The music is very well-written, and there are plenty of moments scattered throughout the lengthy songs that stand out. Some of the guitar solos and psychedelic workouts in particular should be noted. However, overall this is an album less about individual moments or parts, and more about overarching mood, atmosphere, and feeling. Esoteric are masters of their craft, and each song here contains a world of its own that’s ripe for exploration. The band pull you in and keep you there, like a planetary body with its own strong gravitational force. Losing yourself in A Pyrrhic Existence is pretty effortless; dragging yourself away from it is the hard part.
A Pyrrhic Existence has been worth the long wait between releases, so turn out the lights, turn on the music, and become absorbed in Esoteric’s dark world.