Many metal subgenres are grounded in structure and tradition. The vocabulary surrounding these sorts of bands often includes words like “poser” and “true metal”, words that show a culture of keeping things the same and rejecting change. This is not to critique these bands. Genres like this have real merit and a place in metal that is both unique and important. There is a necessary balance between the old school bands and the bands trying to do something different. Though I do enjoy this more mysterious and esoteric side of metal, I’ve often strayed from writing about it; music like this has a particular mystic power about it and finding words becomes difficult.
I,Voidhanger Records is a rising metal label interested in doing things differently. They caught my attention in 2015 with Midnight Odyssey’s Shards of Silver Fade and I’ve been hooked ever since. Their penchant for delivering obscure and interesting metal, such as is described above, is unmatched by the vast majority of labels out there. In late July, I, Voidhanger released Mystic Echo From A Funeral Dimension, the debut album from Esoctrilihum, a one man black metal project. Despite the excellent black metal contained in this impressive and lengthy debut, the band hasn’t gained much traction in the metal blogosphere. Now I, a supremely thoughtful internet music curator, must right this wrong.
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If my prose is especially verbose in this write-up, it must be this album’s grandiose attitude bleeding into my own. Mystic Echo is epic in the true Homerian sense of the word. Esoctrilihum takes time with their (or his) music making sure every detail, from the riffs and drums to the ambient effects, serve the larger picture. Each song twists and turns with typical black metal melancholy and just a pinch of Romanticism. Only one track on this album leaves the 9 minute range and yet none of the songs feel over-wrought. The project’s mysterious mastermind, Asthaghul, knows how to slow-build and keep the surprises coming.
There’s lots of classic Norwegian aggression on this album. Abbath and Fenriz would certainly find some riffs and shrieks on this album to be worthy of their praise. Additionally, there’s some Swedish melody too, not too far from Dissection or Dawn. Deeper, though, on top of the well-executed classic BM influences is a fragility that gives the album a certain mystical character. It’s something few bands can achieve. Though there isn’t a direct sonic comparison to be made, Wolves in the Throne Room touches upon the same overall feeling in their earlier albums. It’s otherworldly, like you’ve stumbled upon something you’re not supposed to see. This is a stunning debut that perfectly illustrates the appeal of metal shrouded in obscurity. It will leave you assuredly moved but unsure of its precise meaning.