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Esoteric : Esoteric Emotions: The Death of Ignorance (Remaster)

Fans of Esoteric have been asking for this for the best part of 25 years: the official demo re-release.

Esoteric have steadfastly stuck to their stated intention not to re-release their demo for a long time. It's nearly 25 years since the original tape was circulated, and 17 since a very limited run of CDrs was put out (reviewed here). They have sat back and watched as all their '90s extreme Doom contemporaries have milked their early efforts for all they are worth, and still stuck to their guns. But what is this? A proper CD release, through long-time collaborators Aesthetic Death, you say? Apparently, even in the super slow world of Doom, if you wait long enough anything can happen, especially if it’s a poke in the eye to Discogs bootleggers and a pleasant Christmas present for the hard-core fans, who are known to be big into such festivities.

It’s hard to know how to approach something like this. On the one hand, put up against any of Esoteric's six full-length-(plus) albums, the demo doesn't come off well. In fact, even going song by song, you'd be able to convincingly argue that there is no song on the demo up to the standard of any other track they've put out. On the other hand, it’s clearly a landmark record, with several elements completely unique to Esoteric's sound present right from the start, with seemingly no real prior art to take influence from. Sure, the band themselves might namedrop bands they were influenced by at the time, but if you listen to those stated influences you will notice a distinct lack of heavy vocal FX processing and whacked-out bass synthesizers.

25 years is a long time, and whilst I’ve only been familiar with 'Esoteric Emotions - The Death of Ignorance' for the last 13 or so, it’s still plenty of time for me to have fairly well formed opinions about it. For me, I’ve always felt it lacked proper integration between the more Esoteric-y elements and the fairly straight forward thrashy Death Metal that is the staple of the majority of songs. Other than the ever-present Greg Chandler vocals dripping in every single effect he could throw at them, the more distinct elements are generally separated from the more straightforward parts. A song will start with a load of noisy bass synths and interesting sounds, then quickly fall into a mid-tempo dirge with little to write home about. Of course, it’s easy to be critical about such things with the benefit of hindsight, with the debut full-length 'Epistemological Despondency' blending the two together perfectly only one short year later. Also, thankfully, dropped between demo and album were the slightly dodgy pitch shifted ‘clean’ vocals found here and there - quite possibly the most jarring element found here, and certainly the only moment on an Esoteric record that has made me laugh out loud.

There are moments that point to greatness of course, with 17 minute epic 'Eyes of Darkness' being a personal favourite - in fact, despite my earlier comments, I do enjoy this track more than a couple on 'Epistemological Despondency'. It’s here where they start to sound like Esoteric, with a longer and more complex structure, better layering of interesting sounds within the framework of the song, and a truly excellent noise breakdown into a sea of bass synths and samples (I had a snippet of this section of the track as my SMS notification tone for a year or so back in the day - great fun in public places!). In fact, this is about the only song I have any recollection of listening to the whole way through in the last 10 years, up to revisiting the whole demo whilst writing this review. My opinion hasn’t really changed.

It seems pointless to sum up this review with a 'recommended for fans of' section like I so often do. It’s not uncommon to meet fans of later Esoteric who struggle to get into their seminal '90s double albums, and the target audience for this is likely to be a subset of even these die-hards. Still though, this is very much a reissue driven by supply and demand - there have certainly been a very vocal minority asking for this at every opportunity. Personally, whilst I can’t say I wouldn’t have preferred the long awaited 'Metamorphogenesis' LP (coming soon, I’m told) to complete my vinyl discography (presuming they don’t do another album first), or the CD version of the remixed 'The Pernicious Enigma', I’m pretty excited to finally have a copy of this piece of history on a real CD.

Editor's note: This edition is limited to 1000 copies of a 20 page digibook CD, remastered by Greg in 2017, and with new artwork and layout by Meriel Longmore.

Author's addendum: Due to the immense secrecy surrounding this release, I was not aware of all the details at the time of writing the review. I have since received the physical media for this release and I must say it is a thing of beauty. The CD comes in a lovely digipack with shiny embossed Esoteric symbol. The artwork has been re-done based on the original cover, with new pieces fitting the original theme filling the many pages of the included liner notes. The CD also comes bundled with a reprint of the original flyer advertising the demo from back in '93. There is also a limited number that come in an Esoteric logo'd cotton bag - sadly these sold out almost straight away! The love that Stu at Aesthetic Death has put into this re-release is apparent and really elevates it from a quick cash-in (not that I ever thought it was) to a must have for any fan of the bands early years, even those who may already own one of the other versions of the demo. This is a reissue done the right way with added value throughout.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Esoteric
2. In Solitude
3. Enslavers Of The Insecure
4. Scarred
5. Eyes Of Darkness
6. Infanticidal Fantasies
7. Expectations Of Love
8. The Laughter Of The Ignorant

Duration : Approx. 78 minutes

Visit the Esoteric bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-12-26 by Kris Clayton
Rotten Copper
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