The Maniacal Vale

Season of Mist 2008

The Maniacal Vale is a two CD set with over 100 minutes of music.  However the promo of the release only features the second of the 2 disk set so I can only judge based on this disk.  With their fourth full length album, the UK's Esoteric see themselves unfolding slowly into mildly psychedelic textures which swim ethereally within the ponderous doom riffs.  Deep death vocals from Greg thunder throughout the songs with an echoing delay adding to this plodding slow motion laudanum induced dream.   This first of the three songs, Silence plodding along at a moribund pace for its entire 15 minute length.  It really sort of reminds me of early Anathema only dragged out at an even slower pace.  Slightly more interesting is Order of Destiny as it has some grand guitar solo work and tumbling drum work that elicits an almost middle eastern feel when combined together.  The third and final song, Ignotum per Ignotius begins with dark, melancholic clean guitar work with an undercurrent of ebbing and surging sonic textures.  Layers are added and the cacophony builds until finally mammoth riffs surface and Greg's deep throat invokes a form of natural explosion, like crashing waves echoing off coastal cliffs.  We find Esoteric abandoning this more spiritual ambience for a slightly more traditional doom death pounding towards the middle of the song.  At times they also border on Funeral doom in their epic slowness.  Over the coarse of the composition's 22 minutes it meanders through many different emotions and styles, yet the same core of lethargy remains.  In the end this release from Esoteric doesn't really do it for me.  Everything about it seems sort of flat and lifeless.  The whole album sort of holds me at a distance.  Sure Esoteric are trying so many different things within this often limited style, but it still feel like maybe they are too intelligent for their own good which prevents and emotional connection between the music and me.  I am sure many people will see beyond this and appreciate what they are doing on The Maniacal Vale.