Review Summary: UK prog-rock outfit deliver an impressive debut that quickly became a success within their local scene.
Founded in Africa and now based in Surrey in the UK, Esoterica have made quite a name for themselves since releasing their debut album, The Fool
, in 2007. Having received a large amount of European radio airplay, it was no surprise their unique style of progressive rock quickly gained momentum and acquired a solid fanbase extremely quickly. Having toured with big acts such as industrial giants Nine Inch Nails, Esoterica’s success is an achievement that cannot be denied by even the most ardent skeptics. The band introduced a new sound to a scene that was crying out for something special; with none other than John Fryer as producer, from the start, it was clear Esoterica were determined to fill this void with something unique, and in some fashion.
Immediately attracting comparisons to Tool and A Perfect Circle, Esoterica set out to show they are not a replica band by any standards. Musically, The Fool
is quite a different approach to prog-rock than any others have attempted in the past. The gloomy atmosphere that is the central thread running through the album facilitates the hypnotic vocals of Tobias Keast perfectly; often harmonizing with some simple drum patterns, his vocals create spacey passages that not only keep the album flowing at a steady pace, but often generate a sense of ambiguity and anticipation. The dark guitar melodies of Matthew Diver and Bari Parrott give The Fool
a genuine sense of rawness and though at times their play may be simple, the emotion contributed by both is something that is easily sensed by the listener. Their style contrasts between simple leads, slow progressive play and several stomping hard rock riffs. The two undoubtedly give the album its diversity and manage to maintain a formula of never allowing two songs to manifest in the same manner; ensuring every song adds a new layer and a more diversifying texture to a fascinating album.
The crisp production values on display enhance the murky atmosphere that Esoterica invoke through their music and, most notably, through the lyrics and the manner in which they are delivered. Songs such as “Salvation” are a prime example; here we learn of the inner turmoil of Keast when it comes to religion and people’s hypocritical infatuation with the subject. A simple eerie guitar lead is overlaid by Tobias’ distinctive vocals and a straightforward drum pattern. An ominous weighty guitar riff then transcends into one of the albums many sky scraping choruses. The catchy “Life Is Lonely” again deals with the singer’s despair, this time with the loneliness of losing someone and his attempts at numbing the pain. An enormous chorus and some of the album’s best guitar and drum work as well as s truly emotional display from Tobias make it a highlight and displays the true talent of a band whose sound appeals to an array of genres.
With The Fool
, Esoterica have delivered a wholly impressive debut. One that injected a new source of diversity into a music scene that was struggling for any sort of true creative uniqueness. A fact quickly realized and understood by the multitude of fans who took solace in the band’s progressive, often spacey hard rock sound. A sound that appealed to such a vast range of demographics not only because of its accessibility, but due to the organic nature of the emotion portrayed. Esoterica were set for big things and The Fool
only cements their place as the leaders of a new generation of UK prog bands.