Written by: Loveloth
Gather 'round, everyone. Let me tell you a short story. Abdul Alhazred, like any foolish mortal, thought he could evade the cosmos' grasp. Many years ago, around 700 A.D., Abdul spent a decade studying ruins of ancient cities before disappearing into the desert. After his return, he spent his final days in Damascus, and it was there that he unveiled the cursed book--The Necronomicon. There laid information which should've remained hidden.
In 738, his punishment finally came; The Mad Arab disappeared without a trace and many wondered what was the reason behind, for they knew he dabbled with black magick and worshipped otherworldly beings. No one knows what exactly happened to him, but the book prevailed and got translated into Greek, Latin, German and eventually English. The whereabouts of the book and its copies are unknown and trust me, it's for the better. Whoever read its pages faced madness, death, or worse. That book is pure evil and I would advise you, dear reader, to not chase that knowledge so many before you have. But what do I know for I am just a mere mortal, just like you. Or am I?
Whatever the case, it seems the spirit of The Mad Arab lives on, and in this particular case, lives through Esoctrilihum.
Hailing from France and consisting of only one member, Asthâghul, Esoctrilihum came to prominence recently due to his prolific nature. In mere two years he released four eccentric black metal records, the latest one being The Telluric Ashes of the Ö Vrth Immemorial Gods. For most, this was their first introduction to Asthâghul's universe, myself included. Needless to say, I wasn't that impressed, as I found the record bloated and filled with too many unfinished ideas. Fast forward to the present and Eternity Of Shaog comes along. Now, the story is very different. Before we enter Shaog's realm, allow me to elaborate upon the “universe” part.
You see, unlike most one man bands, Asthâghul went a step further and created his own universe, one heavily rooted in Lovecraft's, so much so that our boy Shaog is basically my mast-... I mean entity known as Azathoth. A primordial, omnipresent, omnipotent mass between dimensions and ruler of the Outer Gods. His name alone should evoke terror, but The Nuclear Chaos is so much more. His power is limitless, so much so that all of creation is a mere projection of his dreams. Once he awakens, all life ends and everything becomes him and him alone. If you have been paying attention, you could've noticed how my name Loveloth resembles that of The Daemon Sultan.
Logically, it should come as no surprise how my interest piqued as soon as I read what Eternity Of Shaog is about. You see, like The Blind Idiot God, Shaog exists outside time and space. However, unlike Him, Shaog is awake, imprisoned in a cage and very hungry. How does he satiate this hunger, you ask? Well, by consuming and possessing those who enter his ruined world of course! It's important to note how this entrance can only be achieved by dreaming. If Shaog is a metaphor or if he truly exists remains to be seen. In any case, the music before us should keep us busy from thinking too much about things we're not ready to digest.
And kept me busy this has. This eldritchian collection of songs possesses enough variety to please any fan of the extreme. As I mentioned, Esoctrilihum is a black metal band at heart, but because this is France we're talking about, we have plenty of eccentricity. And, like our cosmic overlords, this eccentricity takes numerous forms. We've got dissonance, psychedelia, symphonic elements, clean passages, synths, violins, kantele--you name it, and it all works for the majority of the record's run time. I say this mostly because Eternity Of Shaog passes the one-hour mark, and while you can certainly feel that length, the record is still more than enjoyable. It all comes down to the songwriting department, where Asthâghul seemingly put in the most work.
The vicious nine minute-long “Thritônh (2nd Passage – the Colour of Death)” is just one example of this dynamic quality due to...well, its dynamic nature. Ironically enough, we do not reach a stark transition until later in the song where kantele and violins break through the thick veil of Morbid Angel-like blasting that dominates its earlier sections. The vocals follow suite as we're met with growls, howls, and shrieks that coincide with the current mood of the track. Speaking of mood, I have to mention the production and how it fits the narrative. Unlike the cavernous and pitch black Inhüma or claustrophobic The Telluric Ashes of the Ö Vrth Immemorial Gods, Eternity Of Shaog has space. Lots of it. Considering where the story is situated, it makes perfect sense. Why would a vast floating world in ruins sound compressed and limited? Make no mistake though, as much as this is airy and spacious, there is still this foul stench of evil lurking around every corner. It's an extremely difficult thing to get right, especially when your music is as layered as this, but Asthâghul absolutely nailed it. One glance at the eerily triumphant “Shayr-Thàs (6th Passage – Walk the Oracular Way)” showcases this constrained feeling of space perfectly by utilizing a horn section and combining it with additional percussions. The following (and personal favourite) track “Namhera (7th Passage – Blasphemy of Ephereàs)” does the same but its base is quite different as it's a much more direct and relentless beast. Even the synth-led interlude “Shtg (4th Passage – Frozen Soul)” sticks its landing and avoids usual cheesy sympho-black fare bands like Dimmu Burger mastered (and butchered).
This is some truly wonderful stuff, yet this only became apparent after two revisits due to its aforementioned range and ambition.
So with all the odd Blut Aus Nord-meets-Oranssi Pazuzu-like psychedelia, Deathspell Omega's penchant for dissonance, The Ruins Of Beverast-esque tribalisms, and everything in between, what do we get? Luckily for you and me, we don't get a simple mish mash of genres and a few bands. We get something that sounds like old Abdul himsel: a glimpse into the insanity which remains purposefully hidden, or better yet, our ignorance masking it.
This is easily my favourite Esoctrilihum record, and the one Asthâghul needed to make. Not only did he expand his sound palette in a big way, but he laid superb foundations for his next eventual undertaking. I truly hope he capitalizes on the momentum he gathered here and continues exploring more and more genres. That said, you can be sure you'll be seeing Eternity Of Shaog appearing on many best of lists across the internet, including mine. Hail Azathoth, hail Shaog Og Magthoth, and hail our Mad French!
Esoctrilihum - Eternity Of Shaog was released May 22nd from I, Voidhanger Records
Esoctrilihum can be found...
...nowhere in this plane of existence, apparently. So check outI, Voidhanger instead.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!