The War Inside My Head: An Interview with Esoctrilihum

Eoctrilihum has fast become one of the most idiosyncratic, creative and prolific black metal projects working today. With six full-length albums and one EP (and not to forget one stellar track on the compilation album we released last year), including 2019's stellar The Telluric Ashes of the Ö Vrth Immemorial Gods, all in the space four (!) years, the one-man French entity has just been on a historic run of ruthless, emotional metal. And while the band has garnered praise all over the metal underground for Asthâghul's uncanny, seemingly limitless ambition and execution, to me Esoctrilihum is at its best when it channels both the pomp and extravagance of such 90s symphonic black metal bands such as Dimmu Borgir or Bal-Sagoth with a raw, lo-fi black metal attack.

Case in point is the project's most recent release, Dy'th Requiem For The Serpent Telepath, which came out via the great I, Voidhanger Records earlier this month. With a greater sense of pacing and dynamism, or, I should say, cohesive dynamism, it feels like a tightening of the now hallmark chaotic Esoctrilihum sound. Tigher, more focused, and still stuffed with the heavenly downpour of sounds and textures that make the project as unique as it is. And it is for that reason that I am more than happy to include Esoctrilihum in our The War Inside My Head series, where we explore the influences and musical passions of some of the most interesting, forward-thinking acts in extreme music.

Before we get the interview with Asthâghul this is just to say that you can check out our other interview series (Albums of the DecadePillars of the 90s) and, you haven't already, please follow follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramSpotify and support whatever it is that we do on Patreon, and check out our kinda-sorta podcast, MATEKHET (YouTubeSpotify and all that). On to Esoctrilihum.

What was the first album you bought with your own money, and where did you buy it?

The first one I bought was Blackwater Park from Opeth. It's a very special album, which evokes indelible memories. There is a kind of affliction that clearly reflects something very authentic. I just don't know where I bought it – I think it was in a media library.

What 2-3 albums did you hear the most growing up?

I will say mainly One Second by Paradise Lost, and Debut from Björk; Halls Of Frozen North by Catamenia. These are certainly three of my best memories.

What two albums taught you the most about making music (mixing, production, performance)?

It's not easy to answer. There are a lot of things that inspired me to shape music, and I think that when we get our ears used to particular frequencies we develop a better ability to master certain waves according to our own laws, and this is how we develop our style. But honestly, there is no band that comes to my mind regarding mixing. In fact, I learned mixing techniques realizing that there are endless ways to control our own sound, and over the years I have learned some techniques through my intuition. For example, I have always tried to create my own universe by trying to recover things from my unconscious, it is sometimes not obvious, but it is a very interesting medium. But obviously I can't deny that particular bands influenced me. If I had to choose two albums it would certainly be Gojira's The Link and Illusion's Play from Shape Of Despair.

Those two albums are really special to me. There is a lot of melancholy and sadness in Illusion's Play, I have no word to say how much I love this album, I will just say that the general atmosphere evokes a multitude of emotions, and these feelings will remain engraved in me forever. This music takes us to the darkest corners of our being, and awakens lost emotions. Regarding The Link, it is this clearly atypical side that I like. Gojira has mixed a lot of influences in a grandiose avant-garde metal work. It's very experimental, and technical. The melodies are sometimes tortured, and very malleable. They have always made a point of using a certain guitar technique that never loses power.

What is the last album that absolutely shocked you?

I will say: Fury Nocturnus from T.O.M.B. It's an album that generates a very powerful flow of darkness. I could even say that the simple fact of listening to this music attracts and invokes very dark entities. All the songs are an ode to something very enigmatic and yet very obvious, I really like these aspects / duality. And it's incredible to live such intense experiences musically speaking! Of course, we should not underestimate the impact of such music on our psyche, because sometimes we have to take precautions. But it is a masterful work of dark music. This kind of masterpiece opens doors to another plane of existence. The waves developed by someone who masters a certain practice allow to create a complex and unique system of musical magic, very often musical magic occurs naturally.

What album relaxes you or centers you the most?

Woodsmoke from Nest. When I'm not well, or just want to rest I listen to this music. But even outside of those contexts, I listen to this album, because the sound of the Kantele is really soothing, and I'm sure there are a lot of virtues associated with it. There is also Elffor's Son of the Shades, which helps me to stay in a particular state, this album comes from another dimension. The sound immerses me in an evocative universe. It's the kind of project that magnifies nature and cosmic beings. Otherwise the Nocturnal Poisoning project is incredible. I love the album Other Worlds of the Mind, a true masterpiece. With this album, we dive into a very personal dimension. There is something indescribable that brings me into a state of appeasement.

What are the 2-3 albums you’ve listened to the most recently?

Lately I've been listening to a lot of stuff, the first one would be Antaeus, in particular the Blood Libels album. They're an exceptional band, I really like their vision, they create a tortured aura and the result is impressive. Otherwise, I listen to Merciless' The Awakening, very violent death metal. The third band I've been listening to lately is Limbonic Art, the album Legacy Of Evil, one of my favorite bands concerning symphonic black metal.

What album is grossly underrated?

 There are some great albums that don't get enough attention. But in a way, before I signed with my label I never paid attention to the reviews of my favorite artists, because when I like an album a lot I don't care about negative reviews on the internet, humans will never destroy my opinions. But if I had to pick one, it would be definitely Massive Conspiracy Against All Life from Leviathan. For me, this album is a real gem and a gift – the work that has been done is simply wonderful. I have never listened so much to any other album. The production reflects the mentality of the project, everything is authentic. The drums are also a very strong feeling vector. There is hatred, pain, despair, and it is all very well mixed together. I think this album is not well known enough. Some people said that certain songs were out of context, but for me it is totally wrong, all the tracks are coherent and correspond to a very particular universe.

I would recommend other excellent albums Antimoshiach from Spite, and Alttarimyllyt from Circle Of Ouroborus.

What album would you recommend from your local scene?

I don't feel particularly connected to my local scene, and besides, I don't know anyone in that area.