Esoctrilihum – Eternity of Shaog
Black metal is an ever-evolving beast and there are a handful of bands who are consistently pushing the underground of the genre into new territory; generally these bands are one person projects who release music independently or on small labels – for the aesthetic, of course. One such band is France’s Esoctrilihum, who have released four full lengths since 2017 and with Eternity of Shaog – the fifth – the band have pushed themselves once again, a little further out from the underground.
Sole member Asthâghul might be a mysterious figure, but Esoctrilihum gives us a small glimpse into the mind of a person who has been creating an individual space for themselves in the pantheon of black metal that is out there. This is a unique vision and one that stands far apart from much of the “popular” black metal or even the less known acts that exist and that it is the work of one person only, makes it all the more impressive in its complexity and concepts.
Eternity of Shaog is a clever evolution for Esoctrilihum, in that it uses previous work as its stepping stone and simultaneously gives us a side of the band that many have been looking for – progression and melody have been staples of the Esoctrilihum sound yet this latest release pushes that theme further – case in point, the blackened groove of opener “Orthal” or the cheeky lifting of Fear Factory’s “Pisschrist” melody on “Exh-Enî Söph (1st Passage: Exiled from Sanity)” and it’s subtle middle eastern guitar lines.
There is a sense that Asthâghul has a deep level of respect for religion and perhaps those somewhat outside of the usual Abrahamic code, and so those ideas filter into the music and the lyrics – songs about insane Gods, epic landscapes and being trapped on a plane of existence that is not a match to that of your consciousness. They all create an atmosphere of abject dread and the use of off-kilter violins during “Thritônh (2nd Passage – The Colour of Death)” and “Aylowenn Aela (3rd Passage: The Undying Citadel)” only adds to the feeling of utter terror being fed through the music.
The presence of the title character, Shaog, has been conjured previously on Esoctrilihum’s Pandaemorthium (Forbidden Formulas to Awaken the Blind Sovereigns of Nothingness) in 2018, and here Shaog acts as the ruler of a universe filled only with desolation, biding his time and waiting for an innocent to stumble into his path where they will be possessed and discarded, left to turn to ashes and settle on the sparse landscape of Shaog’s domain. Eternity of Shaog runs for an hour yet there will be times that you finish listening to the album and go back to press play again – the lore involved in Asthâghul’s work is devilishly intricate and requires much time to absorb and understand that vision, at least, partially.
The desire to fall deep into the world that Esoctrilihum has channelled is overwhelming at times, not least when the hypnotic, cycling sounds of “Shayr-Thàs (6th Passage: Walk the Oracular Way)” pull you into the abyss or the bizarre progressions of “Namhera (7th Passage – Blasphemy of Ephereàs)” catch you unaware. There are moments of utter insanity on Eternity of Shaog, far too many to mention, but the unusual vocal delivery and discordant riffs certainly play a large part in the unease that you feel while listening to the album.
The shifts from deep vocal lines to bizarre violin to deathly fast drumbeats to strangled cries is incredibly jarring yet Esoctrilihum somehow manage to pull all of those elements together in a way that is cohesive, despite their disparity to each other in general terms. It is quite spectacular and Eternity of Shaog never wavers from these contesting themes, they are embraced to the highest degree. Chaos is welcomed in the world of Esoctrilihum and it is worshipped during Eternity of Shaog as a deity – chaos is the ultimate overseer and madness is its twisted soul.
Listen and purchase here.