Since the release of their debut album, The Fool, and their tour with HIM, EsOterica have continued to play live and appear at festivals with the likes of Marilyn Manson and Korn. The Riddle is the follow up and shows the band are developing from their Goth roots to create a clear sound of their own encompassing classic rock and prog-metal influences. The first track for example has strong overtones of early Nickelback with plenty of reverb behind the rumbling bass and fuzzy guitar. Crisp drumming and staccato effects drive along a pacey warbling vocal. A sophisticated backing vocal leads an interlude between the verses before building into intensity and crashing into a brick wall ending like Tiger Woods leaving home at 2am.
"Tomorrow I won't remember" is only slightly mellower but has a catchy chorus line and a psychedelic feel to some of the synthesiser play. An Eastern tinge to the opening of "Chemicals" gives way to a strong riff and distorted vocals emphasising the psychotic lyrical imagery. Again the band make good use of andante variation in the middle section and finish strongly. Sitar and hand drums again lift the lid on an Eastern vision which this time sticks around longer in "The Empire of Eyes" mixing worlds together in Western metal riffs and Eastern sounds.
A couple of more reflective tracks follow in "Fill me with love" which is followed by "Silence" which features one of the most emotive vocal performances from Tobias Keast. "Manimal" is a scary bit of work with violent keyboard, shredded vocals and a blurred percussive performance with explosive interjections and an electronic nightmare fit for Elm Street. This is like Universe Zero on speed. The "Python Tree" is a staggering drug-induced journey through bad trip hell held together by an understated riff.
The title track keeps faith with some of the psych influences apparent in the slower pieces and features another bleak and desperate lyric. "Bleed" launches off its starting grid smoothly and grows into a mid-paced hard rock number whilst retaining the menacing distortion effects and spiralling vocal which typically subdue the driving riffs throughout this album. The almost balladic and querulous "Humming song" takes the tempo down to its slowest point and the band continue the speed level in the melancholic "Goth girl", a timely lament as the UK recently concluded the trial of a savage murder and beating of two young people for exhibiting their chosen lifestyles to a gang of yobs – wrong place, wrong time.
"Watch This Drive" takes advantage of the manic ramblings of Dubbya to up the pace for the final track; not exactly an original thing to do but a good end to a solid album of good hooks and powerful lyrical imagery, perhaps on the darker side of The Fool. Take a look at their video on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/esotericatv.
2. Tomorrow I won't remember
4. The Empire of Eyes
5. Fill me with love
8. Python Tree
9. The Riddle
10. Bleed (till we're blue)
11. The Humming Song
12. Goth girl
13. Watch this drive