Esoctrilihum – Dy’th Requiem for the Serpent Telepath Review

Another year, another 78 minute monster of an album by Esoctrilihum landing in my promo box with a bowel shaking thud. It seems the musical reproductive cycle of the elusive Asthâghul, native to France, is on an approximate 9-10 month cycle, wherein no sooner than one shrieking, multi-limbed abomination is calved writhing onto the unsuspecting earth, a pan-dimensional demon god plants its seed into Asthâghul’s gaping mind womb to begin the gestation process anew. To be in such a constant state of creative estrus must be absolutely exhausting. I know as a reviewer who has squatter’s rights to all Esoctrilihum output on this site, I’m tired just thinking, listening and writing about it. Still, I found last year’s fell spawn Eternity of Shaog to be a beast in the best sense, and it marked the first time I could get behind the hype that this project has been building in the metal underbrush since it burbled up from an oily black pool in 2017. This year sees Asthâghul’s sixth full-length Dy’th Requiem for the Serpent Telepath unleashed on a weary world, and I have thoughts. 

Stylistically, Dy’th Requiem for the Serpent Telepath is somewhere between a continued evolution of the more symphonic elements introduced in Shaog, and a larger break from past Esoctilihum albums altogether. This is still the same blackened death something or other at its core with Asthâghul’s signature halting vocal delivery, but the claustrophobic twists and turns of an album like The Telluric Ashes of the Ö Vrth Immemorial Gods have been smoothed out in favor of a stronger commitment to melodic repetition. There are plenty of surprise passages and double backs here, but they unfold over the course of the album more than over the course of individual songs. The production also feels different, with the “symphonic” elements of synths and strings sitting prominently forward. In an odd way, songs like “Tyurh” and “Agakuh” feel like dungeon synth that has been taken out of the basement studio and blown up to cinematic scale. This is reinforced later with the full blown dungeon synth instrumental “Craânag.” It’s a lovely piece that adds more to the album than most instrumentals.

If we take Dy’th Requiem for the Serpent Telepath by the organizing principle Asthâghul intended, four sections of three songs each, then the success of the album is thanks largely to a strong central core. The songs that make up Part II: The Secret Doctrines of Transmigration are highly effective as a trio, with “Baahl Duthr” laying down some of the nastiest get-up-and-go riffs on the album, “Agakuh” following with the previously mentioned epic synths and “Eginbaal” splitting the difference between the two approaches in a very pleasing way. Part III: The Scarlet Flame of Transfiguration presents separate elements even more dramatically with “Dy’th,” a straight death metal track that suddenly shifts gears in the final minutes followed by the pure dungeon synth of “Craânag.” “Zhaïc Daemon” rounds out the throuple with driving blackened death metal adorned with gentle piano lines and a big mid-song stripped down riff. The opening and closing three song runs do have their highlights, with “Tyurh” and the psychedelic black metal freak out “Xuiotg,” respectively.

While I’m impressed by this further evolution of Esoctrilihum‘s nearly unique sound, the same issue that has kept this project from breaking into my top records of the year previously remains a handicap. This. Is. Too. Long. Nearly 80 minutes of dense material is a chore, even when that material is very good. Add the new commitment to melodic repetition, and there are redundant passages in several places. This is what keeps Part I: Serpentine Lamentations of Death from rising to the level of later songs. Each of the three are good in isolation, but they doggedly repeat the same ideas. By the time one gets to Part IV: Methempsychosis of the Grand Telepath exhaustion has set in and a track like “Nominès Haàr” feels like so much of what came before that it may as well be cut. 

These editing issues are frustrating, because I’ve majorly come around to the singular vision Asthâghul brings to the metal underground. He has refined his sound without compromising his challenging compositional style while following a “strike while the iron is hot” mentality to become the most prolific one man black metal band operating today. I just wish he would take the time to trim fat and split hairs, because if he did, he could release something truly stunning.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: I, Voidhanger
Releases Worldwide: May 21st, 2021

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