ESOTERIC - The Pernicious Enigma

Esoteric - The Pernicious Enigma

9 songs
114:52 minutes
***** ****
Aesthetic Death


Usually I donít write reviews about re-released albums, but in the case of Esotericís The Pernicious Enigma, I decided that this one should be an exception. Lately there have been tons of new funeral doom metal bands releasing albums, but when did that genre actually start manifesting itself. It was in the early Nineties that a handful of bands took the doom metal ingredients and stretched them to the extreme. Esoteric from Birmingham in the United Kingdom were one of these band. Founded in 1992, their first demo tape was already way over an hour long. Their debut album Epistemological Despondency in 1994 was a double CD, but it was their second record The Pernicious Enigma three years later which helped shape the funeral doom metal sound. Since then they released another four longplayer, with four of the six being double CD albums.

This new version of The Pernicious Enigma comes twenty-one years after its initial release, and has been completely remixed and remastered. The nine songs have been spread over two CDs and make it to nearly two hours. Apart from the nearly three minute short At War With The Race, the songs are all between twelve and nineteen minutes long. Apart from the improvised NOXBC9701040, they are fully composed pieces.

Itís hard to describe each and every song individually, but it is amazing how these guys back then took the basic foundation of funeral doom metal, and added death metal elements, especially the growling vocals, to make this album even a pioneer work of the soon to emerge death doom metal movement. As if that were not enough, there are tons of psychedelic influences, mostly by using tons of effects to give the overall sound a very trippy feeling, and occasional progressive touches not unlike Cathedral did even before them, except that with Esoteric, everything always sound much more extreme. Although the general pace of the album is expectedly sluggish, there are occasional bouts of up-tempo thrash parts to lighten the mood at times.

In retrospect, it must be said that the sound is somewhat on the archaic side, but it should not be forgotten that itís pioneering artists like Esoteric who have been the instigators of a whole new subgenre of doom metal. Listening to The Pernicious Enigma takes time. The album is longer than a lot of movies, for instance, and even if you take it in a couple of tracks at a time, it will fulfil you with the dread and angst that funeral doom death metal has made its mission.

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