Esoctrilihum - Saopth's (Self-released)

Esoctrilihum fans rejoice (again!)the most prolific man in underground black metal is back with his second full-length album of 2022.  Whether Asthâghul draws his unfaltering creative energy from a cacodemonic blood-pact, a meth addiction, or straight-up hustle is unclear, but one thing is certain: he's always good for one more.  Like a po-faced and corpse-painted reincarnation of Frank Zappa, the French artist is hellbent on dishing out quantity and quality.   

The most noticeable difference between this album and Consecration of the Spiritus Flesh is the instrumentation.  The latter experimented with a hardscrabble minimalism, jettisoning Asthâghul's typically decadent synth-work for something like an audiophile's attempt at raw/lo-fi BM.  Saopth's, however, is a much more nuanced outing, and showcases his true power—a  sorcerous command over an elastic, fulminating mix.  

Listening to this record is like getting lost in an enormous labyrinth; the architecture is byzantine and claustrophobic, and the walls seem to shift and re-arrange at the whim of the howling artificer within its glyph-marked center.   The vocal production is particularly multifarious, and Asthâghul's screams haunt every nook and cranny.  His voice bellows over war-horn synth lines, slithers down from high-vaulted ceilings, and reverberates through dark stone, only to suddenly tunnel into the listener's mind like a hyper-focused psionic assault.  This unhinged performance elevates the texture-oriented songwriting, transmuting otherwise dreary and hypnotic symphonic BM into something far more phantasmagoric and alive.