Esoterica [Release date 20.04.20]
The dictionary definition of Esoterica is ‘things understood by or meant for a select few’. No one could ever accuse the London based sextet of either as their open-hearted take on modern rock is growing legions of new fans with each release and looks to be a juggernaut that won’t stop until they are filling stadiums.
‘In Dreams’ is the latest phase in their inevitable world domination, a perfectly formed album full of skyscraping melodies and passion that stands the right side of the line, never verging into the histrionic. It’s an exhilarating and fascinating journey, taking in many different turns from hard rock, prog and even throwing in elements of pop to the mix in their own delicious and individual brew.
‘Breaking the Unknown’ kicks things off with its edgy, twisting and spiky widescreen drama. Verging on prog metal, the track fills the senses and takes things on a breathless ride across deserts and cityscapes before launching into space.
Things take a darker turn as, opening with a stuttering riff, ‘Gone’ mixes elements of Goth and Industrial rock to brilliantly abrasive effect, a barely controlled rage bubbles under the surface and a wild guitar solo adds to the mayhem whilst ‘In Dreams’ is proggy epic rock that takes some of its keys from the heavier side of Depeche Mode.
There’s more classically intelligent pop fare in ‘I Won’t Give Up On You’ which nods towards the sort of material Tears For Fears were writing at their best, starting gently and subtly building before it bursts out into something that explodes like New Year’s fireworks.
They follow that with their own gutsy take on the New Order classic ‘True Faith’ that retains all the charm of the original rather than slaughtering it but also add their own shades of weight and dynamics.
Squeezing in another two monstrously titanic arena flattening and urgent modern rock songs in the form of ‘Humanity’ and ‘Letting Go’, the band then let loose with another cover, ‘You’re Not Alone’ by Olive. It might seem an odd choice but the band have done a stunning job and change it from its spacey dance origins into something brooding and beautiful that sees it layered between the lush orchestration recorded at Abbey Road and big symphonic metal guitars, drums and bass.
Bringing the humanity to the fore as the rest of Esoterica whip up their stellar musical maelstrom, Tobias Keast’s vocals draw you in, full of longing and are a richly expressive instrument in themselves.
Throughout they shine and the quality never dips from the opening few notes right until the towering close. The album finishes with the velveteen, spiraling ‘Hunted’ and the planet destroying force of ‘The Still’, the latter a seismic tumult of organ, orchestra and band that is so massive that you wonder how they found a studio big enough to contain the sound. A towering achievement, ‘In Dreams’ is nothing short of stunning. *****
Review by Paul Monkhouse
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