Following the release of “A Pyrrhic Existence“, a record that confirmed Esoteric as one of the best funeral doom metal bands, we had the opportunity to ask some questions to the English group. Below you can read the interview, which deals the highlights of their long career, paying more attention to the last album.
Hi guys and thanks for your time! Your next album’s release is getting closer as I’m writing the questions. Could you introduce to our readers what to expect from it?
“A Pyrrhic Existence” is an album that deals with some of the darkest sides of the human psyche and the harsh realities of existence. The concepts of the lyrics deal with death, suffering, tragedy, lies and the breakdown of the human psyche. The title is a reference as to how existence can be perceived as something that inflicts so much devastation on the survivor, that it becomes tantamount to defeat. The music is a progression from the previous albums, and is of an extremely psychedelic and experimental nature. It can be likened to a vicarious journey through the twisted passages of the broken mind.
Between this album and the previous one seven years has passed. That’s a quite big difference compared to the past, when your releases were usually separated by four years more or less. Has the writing process required more time for a specific reason?
Yes, it is something we are well aware of. We just had a slow period, it wasn’t intentional. We were just busy in general with work and other things. It has been a lot longer this time, yes. Sometimes periods of stagnation or slow progression occur when a band has existed for so long. The sense of urgency sometimes is lost. We didn’t stop rehearsing, playing live or being active with the band in the period between the last two albums. We just couldn’t all give as much time to the band over the last few years.
The album is divided into two CDs, is there any specific difference between them?
No, there is no specific difference between the CDs. All of the songs are a little different from each other. We just chose the order that flowed best to us and created segue tracks between each song.
I really enjoy the cover art of the record. From your point of view what’s its connection with the music you composed? Could you explain us its meaning?
Well we sent the artist, Lisa Schubert, the music and lyrics to use as a reference to the atmosphere we wanted to portray, and also some directions regarding the main subjects of the lyrics. We also provided some references of the styles of art we like and our previous album covers. She created some drafts and we gave her direction from there, but it is her vision. And she created a great oil painting on canvas for the cover artwork. The 4 characters represent the subjects of death, suffering, tragedy and lies, and the main character represents the breakdown of the psyche. And it is set in a barren, desolate landscape. This is how it ties in with the music and lyrics.
Still talking about what’s behind the songs, have they got something in common? Some ideas, maybe the concept, or other things?
Not specifically. The segues have some connection to the songs they flow between, but there is no overall concept for the album.
Last question about “A Pyrrhic Existence”. What are the emotions that accompanied you during the writing process and how much have they influenced you?
They are the emotions that you can hear on the album, and they influenced us in the way that we created music with it. The band focuses on the darker side of the mind and of human emotions. That does not mean to say that is all there is, but of course, it is what we like to create in music and enjoy playing. It helps towards maintaining some equilibrium of the mind to have an outlet which can act as a release.
Let’s talk about the first years of you career now. When you started playing music with this band funeral doom metal was just a rising style, basically unknown. Has some band or other kind of artist influenced your growth?
Funeral doom didn’t exist as a genre when we formed Esoteric. We weren’t aware of any such bands when we started. Winter was the first band that I heard that was extreme doom. I didn’t discover bands like Unholy, Thergothon, Skepticism, Evoken, Mournful Congregation until I saw reviews and interviews in fanzines we’d been reviewed in or been sent. The genre was termed some years later and attributed to us retrospectively. We first described our music as drug-influenced, hateful doom. We have never labelled ourselves as Funeral Doom. Others do, and that is okay for us, we don’t mind what label we have. A genre is just a very brief description to give a new listener some idea of what to expect from a band they haven’t heard, it is not important. But I think our music has quite a broad scope. It is psychedelic and atmospheric, it has odd time signatures and varying tempos, it doesn’t fit in one place really. I don’t think the growth of funeral doom or extreme doom is down to just one band, it is a result of many great bands and good new bands that are also releasing music. It is also a result of more people discovering the music as time goes on.
As you’re around from more than twenty five years you’re familiar to how music industry has evolved, especially in metal-related genres. Any big change or reflection you want to talk about?
I guess the obvious change is that music is much more immediate in the digital age. With technology comes change and people consume music in a wider variety of ways and have easy access to listen to any music. I notice the changes over the years with regards to the number of genres increasing, as you would expect after over 30 years of extreme metal. There are bands that pay homage to their influences and do it well, and there are bands forming who are still able to find something new and fresh, and unique. So I think it is a good time for music and for the listener. The internet is obviously good for choice, but there is also a slight problem in that just about anyone can record and release an album nowadays and release it online. So there is almost too much choice.
What could you define as the main change in your music since 1992? How has the experience affected your career?
From my point of view, I see it as a progression of the band. Our music still has some of its roots, but we have evolved a lot over the years. We are not exactly the same line-up as when we started either, so there are new influences and contributors along the way. I don’t see Esoteric as a career. It is not like a job where I have to do it full time to earn money. I can only do the band in my spare time. For me it is just something I do because I want to, and while I still get some enjoyment out of doing it I will continue.
What are your plans following the release of “A Pyrrhic Existence”?
We plan to do some shows and tours next year. We are at Madrid is the Dark in Spain on December 7th, and we have some shows in Russia and a tour to be announced in 2020. There are other shows we have planned too, but not announced yet.
That’s all, thanks again for your time! Feel free to say anything you want to our readers.
Thank you for the interview! Your support is much appreciated!