Album Title: 
Epistemological Despondency
Release Date: 
Thursday, May 25, 2023
Review Type: 

[a review on a re-release, so I’ll keep it brief and concise]

My first acquaintance with Esoteric – and I guess it might count for the better part of us; at least those who were born almost a century ago – was almost three decades ago under the working title Epistemological Despondency. At that moment, I already was ‘into’ the more extreme areas of Mater Terra’s sonic dimensions, yet I still remember what I felt when listening to this debut: confusion, discomfort, as well as awe and respect.

Esoteric are a band that has been of huge influential and inspirational importance, and that debut-release especially did open the gates towards realms of aural experimentation and muSICKal harshness unheard / unexplored before. It was the first release for Aesthetic Death (!!!), which I do respect enormously, and it’s that very same label that re-issues that semi-legendary album on compact-disc once more as the 100th official title on their roster (congrats, by the way!). There was a remastered re-issue on vinyl too, in 2011, and I’m sure the whole has been reprinted on tape too in one way or another.

Credits: recorded in June 1994 by sole remaining member Greg Chandler (also the guy behind the Priory Recording Studio, where this album has been remastered) and Stuart, Gordon, Darren and Bryan. The cover visuals are the same, yet there have been done some important changes in layout, with this double-compact-disc being released as digipack this time, with the discs themselves coming with alternate visual artwork, and with the whole internal booklet-pages including more visible artistry and information.

As said, I will keep it brief and concise, but I cannot NOT mentioning the impressive magnificence of this material enough. Almost one hour and a half of psychotropic, hallucinogenic, THC-induced (or is it LSD?) (or magic mushrooms?) (or… Yeah, whatever) Ultra-Doom, a foundation for Funeral Doom, Morbid Doom, Stoner Doom, Doom Death and any kind of Doom Music that can manage a twisted, outsider-styled approach, with acoustic fragments and spacy injections, reverberating vocals, neurotic chapters, ultimately slowed-down harmonies, bleak ambiences, sudden psycho-grinding outbursts, and everything that trespasses the limiting borders of normality and superficiality. Abyssal basses, captivating leads, distorted string-lines, hypnotic solos, beastly growls and echoing, somewhat alienated grunts, monumental yet sluggish drum-patterns, semi-acoustic intermezzos, mesmeric synths; Esoteric’s debut was, and still is, a milestone of stylishness, cleverness and craftiness.

So, why this review: (1) in case you do not have this stuff yet, this is the opportunity to…; (2) in case you have one of the former formats, this might be a chance to get a new, remastered edition; (3) in case you have an older edition which you forgot about, this might be a wake-up call to search that one, so you can listen to it once more!