by Ash Levitt
I have always thought that bands from the Kansas City area have had a certain connection musically. While bands like Coalesce, Shiner, the Casket Lottery, and Season to Risk, couldn't be more different in terms of overall sound, there is an unmistakable underlying similarity. Is it some of the riffs Is it simply the fact that some of those bands shared members Who knows It just keeps me coming back for more. Now add the Esoteric to your list of great KC area bands. Though don't be fooled, this band has been around quite a while. Containing previous members of Coalesce, Reggie and the Full Effect, as well as Today is the Day, this band has developed a sound that is unique and truly destructive. If you are familiar with any of their previous offerings, the Esoteric have grown in leaps and bounds over the progression of their releases. After a series of splits with bands like Luddite Clone, Saved by Grace, and Wormwood, in addition to a few EPs and demos, the self-released 2002 EP A Reason to Breathe really started showing the heaviness and intensity that the Esoteric was capable of. The songs became more structured, more detailed. There was more substance, more to listen to. And it was just plain good. Like each successive release, the newest offering, 2004's 1336 EP, picks up where the others left off. Originally recorded at home with the intention of being demos for the new full length (due out in 2005), it was decided that the collection of songs was good enough to release on their own. Fantastic decision. Once mastered by Scott Hull, this EP is truly something to behold. The four tracks on this almost eighteen minute effort pack enough punch and complexity to rival some bands' full-lengths. The recording starts off with the traditional stop-and-go metal riffing, complete with cymbal chokes and raised horns. Then all hell breaks loose and any more comparisons to anything traditional would be inane. A couple of really strong influences can be heard throughout the music, namely Coalesce and Shiner, though the Esoteric goes above and beyond that. The music is more metal and chaotic at times than the previously mentioned bands, while at others, there is a dark serenity to the music, though you will never find any clean guitar interludes or singing on this recording. The amazingly tight band weaves through the mid-tempoed songs with breakdowns (if you can call them that) of various time signatures, giving each song its own identity and complex layering. The dissonant dual guitars and bass are perfectly backed up by a very talented drummer, whose playing can be reminiscent of a more metal version of drum and bass, or even a marching band. Bottom Line: The only thing this EP lacks is the diversity that only a full-length can bring. Everything else is here. It is heavy and strangely calming at the same time, almost to the point of being atmospheric. It will make you want to dance and listen. It is a powerful offering in a small package. So hopefully you will just go listen to this, like it, and buy it.