Esoctrilihum
Astraal Constellations of the Majickal Zodiac


4.0
excellent

Review

by Gary CONTRIBUTOR (63 Reviews)
May 23rd, 2023 | 24 replies


Release Date: 05/12/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Three monstrous pieces compressed into one: the Esoctrilihum Deluxe Experience™️.

I believe at this point it’s safe to say that the genius (Asthâghul) behind the French avant-garde metal miracle, Esoctrilihum, is one of the most prolific creators in the extreme metal world. This year already had a strong, in medias res start with the release of the band’s ninth album, Funeral. Looking at the band’s stylistic progression, it’s relatively simple to notice a trend: Esoctrilihum is getting more and more atmospheric and somewhat more grandiose in time, and each release represents a milestone in the band’s musical evolution - and this very ambitious and gigantic release is not an exception either.

I’d like to start my review with an important supplementary info: the album in question is actually a “phusion-product” of three “albums” written between 2020 and 2022. These sections can be seen as chapters of an enormous concept album: they tell the chronicles of a strange psychic warfare, which revolves around the ruling of all known planes of reality between three fictional deities… (Wild concept, aye?) Since the textual guide related to this release contains just very cryptic and obscure descriptions about this story (not to mention that all the lyrics are written in Asthâghul’s secret language), so yet again: our fantasy remains the best company in the enjoyment of this album. Considering the length and the structure of this release, let’s investigate each chapter separately.

First chapter: In The Mystic Trance of Tȃimonh Ѳx, The Cosmic Bull God.
Generally speaking, this trilogy consist of three stylistically similar chapters, although, in the first third of Astraal Constellations…, the more psychedelic and atmospheric side of Esoctrilihum protrudes, similarly to certain parts in other previous releases, such as Eternity Of Shaog, Saopth’s or Funeral. The first chapter is made up of six relatively short tracks (I mean short by Esoctrilihum standards), which makes them probably easier to digest. Overall, it holds true for the album that the guitars step back to the background most of the time, but their actual presence varies between the chapters (but when they take the lead, the emerging modern black/death riffs are truly crushing). Instead of the guitars, Asthâghul put an array of diverse sounding synthesizers to the front (pad synths, flutes, organs, etc.), creating a mystical and ethereal atmosphere (some notable tracks to illustrate this are Saturnyôsmachia and Tȃimonh Ѳx). However, despite the heavy usage of atmospheric elements, this chapter can be described as aggressive and overwhelming - likely reflecting the essence of the desired feeling.

Second chapter: In The Presence Of AlŭBḁḁl, The 5-Eyed Star Beast.
Stylistically, this is the most aggressive section on the whole album, but the symphonic elements still bear a relatively strong influence on the sound of this chapter as well. On aggressiveness, do not expect a second Consecration of the Spiritus Flesh here (which is still Esoctrilihum's most aggressive release by far), yet, this kind of “aggressiveness” can be detected in the feeling of the music rather than in style. The guitars stand out a bit more in these songs, just think of the track AlŭBḁḁlisme, which is also the most guitar-centric piece on the entire album. The numerous layers of synthesizer melodies get very dominant yet again next track (Shadow Lupus of Sæmons-Tuhr), but in contrast the mystical atmosphere of the first chapter, here it shifts towards a glorious, majestic, hymnic direction instead.

Sadly, the album's main weakness becomes apparent in this chapter too. Don't get me wrong, I do think this album is excellent, but the song-trio starting with Skorpïus Nebŭlah Tyrant is surprisingly... boring. I never thought I would say this about an Esoctrilihum release, but this roughly twenty-minutes-long section is simply elusive and somewhat forgettable. Perhaps plainly cutting them out would be a bit too radical, but at least these songs could have been molded into a longer composition to evade this effect (similarly to what can be heard in the third chapter). Of course, there are some significantly good riffs in these tracks too, but factors like the occasionally unimaginative drumming and Asthâghul's often overly monotonous vocals sadly diminished the overall enjoyment. Fortunately, the closing piece of the chapter, Omniversal Zodiac War once again showcases the charm of Esoctrilihum’s music, but at the same time, it also underlines the thought how a bit of “shortening” could have been beneficial for this section.

Third chapter: In The Mouth Of Zi-Dynh-Gtir, The Serpen-Time Eater.
The closing chapter of the Astraal Constellations… trilogy consists of two monumental tracks that together offer forty minutes of atmospheric black metal and dungeon synth melodies. Interestingly, thinking in larger compositions suits Asthâghul's style the best, in my opinion, therefore this feels the strongest part of the entire release. Stylistically, these songs do not deviate much from previous parts of the album; however, generally this chapter sounds far more melodic, moreover, there is a strong emphasis on the usage of ambient elements. The “weight” of the guitars is kept minimal here, or sometimes we can notice their full absence too - like in the final moments of the track Zi-Dynh-Gtir - Eon Devourer, we don't hear any guitars at all! I would describe this very interesting sound as "extreme dungeon synth", where the melodies are played on synthesizers only, accompanied by quite aggressive metal drumming (definitely not something that Summoning would do) and Asthâghul's ghostly vocals on the secret reptilian language. Despite the strong ambient focus, this chapter doesn’t lack punchiness either. For instance, the middle part of Serpathei-Xythioŋ - Reptilian Time Reversed contains several truly heavy riffs, which are also accompanied by layers of dungeon synth-like melodies to build an epic atmosphere.

The Astraal Constellations of the Majickal Zodiac is an exciting release. Solely the length of the album is impressive, but considering the album’s complexity and unique sound as well, then it’s clear why it is worthy to be praised. This is undoubtedly a piece of art meant for numerous re-listens, which also demands conscious attention from the listener - and in return, it is a guaranteed truly thrilling experience for all fans of extreme metal.



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user ratings (35)
4
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
garas
Contributing Reviewer
May 23rd 2023


7649 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Phew, it was especially tough one to write. Bandcamp link: https://i-voidhangerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/astraal-constellations-of-the-majickal-zodiac, but also available on all streaming platforms.

DadKungFu
Contributing Reviewer
May 23rd 2023


3133 Comments


Is thus a good intro to this band?

garas
Contributing Reviewer
May 23rd 2023


7649 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

> Is thus a good intro to this band?

Yes, if you have the patience for a very lengthy album (Runtime is over 2+ hours.)

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 23rd 2023


4954 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review garas! Also, excellent timing as I gave this a first listen yesterday. Obviously too early to say for sure, but I suspect this album will be my favorite Esoctrilihum, an impressive accomplishment for such a sprawling record.

YuriZakhaev
May 23rd 2023


896 Comments


Booba

DavidPrincipe29
May 23rd 2023


18 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Asthâghul's work ethic is boundless...It's just astonishing how much creativity and ideas can float around in one person's head to come out with this much material.

90m80s
May 24th 2023


590 Comments


title could be a reference to saint seiya

Flugmorph
May 24th 2023


30687 Comments


best band of all time

Pikazilla
May 24th 2023


25406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

asstral constipation of the dickal zephyr

WretchedCacophony
May 24th 2023


2520 Comments


album is the tits

DDDeftoneDDD
May 24th 2023


21569 Comments


One can't keep up with esoc releases

Rowhaus
May 24th 2023


4871 Comments


I'm honestly amazed by this guy's volume of work in only 6 years. It would take a lot of bands decades to make half this much material.

Wildcardbitchesss
May 24th 2023


8626 Comments


Damn 2hrs 10 mins. Def gonna be on the playlist for this drive I got coming up for memorial day

garas
Contributing Reviewer
May 24th 2023


7649 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

> It would take a lot of bands decades to make half this much material.

Agreed!



Also thanks for the feature!

metalphil
May 25th 2023


383 Comments


Song titles are meme worthy. Not usually a fan of black metal but giving this a shot. First song is pretty good at least

metalphil
May 25th 2023


383 Comments


Wow, loving this so far

tectactoe
May 25th 2023


6588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Lunḁḁr Phalanx of Ω Draco

lmao

Gameofmetal
Emeritus
May 25th 2023


11267 Comments


Idk if I'm just forgetting how the vocals sounded on previous releases but they seemed kinda weak or poorly mixed here. Also the synths are fistfighting the guitars in the mix like it's a kimbo slice backyard boxing match.

But I kinda like it anyway.

Dizchu
May 25th 2023


483 Comments


Insane album, very overwhelming. I don't even know how to describe it.

metalphil
May 25th 2023


383 Comments


Taimonh Ox is definitely a standout track



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