This is the tenth album form French one-man black metal band Esoctrilihum.
Astraal Constellations of the Majickal Zodiac is a monster of a release. It’s actually three albums in one, essentially, with a total of 130 minutes of material spread across all three. It’s always interesting and enjoyable to catch up with this artist’s work, (for example -2018’s Pandaemorthium (Forbidden Formulas to Awaken the Blind Sovereigns of Nothingness), 2021’s Dy’th Requiem for the Serpent Telepath, and 2022’s Consecration of the Spiritüs Flesh), so I knew I wanted to check this one out, despite its imposing running time. I have not been disappointed. As the release consists of three distinct works, let’s have a look at each in turn, shall we?
Astraal Constellations of the Majickal Zodiac – Part I – In the Mystic Trance of Tȃimonh Ѳx, the Cosmic Bull God
The first part has six tracks and lasts 43 minutes. In this collection of tracks Esoctrilihum’s black metal is fused with elements of death metal to produce a series of aggressive psychedelic explorations. It’s a hypnotic brew that finds the artist crafting songs that wield strange and exotic atmospheres like esoteric weapons.
The music combines the core Esoctrilihum influences into charismatic songs that bleed their interdimensional presence into our reality. When the atmospheric components are thrown into the limelight they shine with otherworldly lustre and conjure unknowable vistas of unfamiliar colours. The synths are a prominent feature here, and are powerful and immersive. They frequently take a starring role that’s striking in their effectiveness.
This is cosmic black metal that’s well-written, well-performed, and hits the spot nicely.
Astraal Constellations of the Majickal Zodiac – Part II – In the Presence of AlŭBḁḁl, the 5-Eyed Star Beast
The second part has six tracks and lasts 45 minutes. For the this next set of songs the music becomes more hostile. These attributes were present in the preceding Part I, of course, but now their impact and intensity is ramped up. The aggressive side of the music is brought more to the fore, while a dramatic sense of grandeur is layered across the material like a warning.
Sharp serrated blackened riffs and churning keyboards are accompanied by blasting drums and harsh screams. Some of the riffs on these tracks are simply murderous, sounding as if they are the aural equivalent of either a blade or a cudgel. These songs are unforgiving and merciless, yet in true Esoctrilihum fashion don’t lack for moments of dark blackened atmosphere either. The synths are just as arresting is they were previously, but in Part II they care less about atmospheric immersion, (although that certainly plays a part), and more about announcing themselves with supreme majestic superiority, while the underlying harsh distortion and punishing drums flays your skin raw.
This is a brutal symphonic black metal journey that’s as nasty is it is worldbuilding.
Astraal Constellations of the Majickal Zodiac – Part III – In the Mouth of Zi-Dynh-Gtir, the Serpen-Time Eater
The third part has only two tracks, but still lasts 43 minutes; each song lasts over 21 minutes, allowing the artist’s vision for his music to broaden and spread like a celestial virus.
All aspects of Esoctrilihum come together on these two epic pieces, and the results are glorious. From rabid savagery to atmospheric grandeur and much between, the artist’s music delivers multifaceted layers of blackened extremity and splendour for the listener to become entranced by. It’s as absorbing as it is bellicose. The music offers a textured experience that’s easy to get lost in as you try to find your way through the oceans of darkness and grandiose auras that the artist creates.
Astraal Constellations of the Majickal Zodiac is quite the journey.
Taken as a whole, Astraal Constellations of the Majickal Zodiac boasts a huge amount of black metal to satisfy adherents of the underground. The songs have an abundance of character, and I’m very pleased to say that the quality matches the quantity.
Very highly recommended.