Album: Pandaemorthium (Forbidden Formulas to Awaken the Blind Sovereigns of Nothingness)
Country of Origin: France
Release Date: February 23, 2018
Genre: Majestic black/death metal
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
This album is so damned good I can leave aside the Lovecraftian lyrical leanings and have plenty of praise left over. Esoctrilihum, a one-man piece hailing from France, is certainly worthy of serious attention from fans of utter darkness. I was skeptical at first: dark and furious riffs pound over a relatively low-mix growl; everything sounds like it was recorded while somehow buried in Japan’s Aokigahara forest. In essence, nothing out of the usual. Right?
Oh, so wrong. “Folk” passages (although they really aren’t folk) soon begin to shimmer against the dark, muddy pool, adding a breathtakingly melodious interlude to the deep and hazy sonic atmosphere of Pandaemorthium. These dreamy, sonic strolls through torch-lit catacombs remain simple in composition. You won’t find Opeth’s acoustic frills or a host of alternative instruments crashing like frat dudes into the wrong party. These understated melodies, however, add the perfect adjustment to the damp and rancid chaos, often evoking a breathtaking moment of subdued beauty that you’ll unhesitatingly return to. Like sex with a new partner, it’s even better the second time around.
Even when Pandaemorthium winds into a repeating riff, you don’t notice. You want these songs to repeat, in fact; you need the few extra measures to truly absorb the power Escotrilihum wields on this sophomore bombshell. Asthaghul (Escotrilihum’s sole member) deserves a standing ovation for his creativity, taste, and utter bleakness of vision. I’ll certainly be keeping tabs on his future work.
-Justin A. Burnett