Esoteric - "Self-titled"
Arm Records

A word of warning to those who put the Esoteric album in their players - after those first 20 seconds or so of mellow guitar and chirping birds, it gets just a *wee* bit heavy. Okay, okay... it gets sickly brutal.

Esoteric, after putting out a couple of seven-inches, finally put out this CD. This Lawrence act has been packing in audiences for a couple of years now with its trademark brand of grindcore, and the CD does not fail to live up to the high standards that have been set by those killer live sets.

As a matter of fact, although the CD is rather short at just a few seconds over 20 minutes, it actually matches the average set length of an Esoteric show. Not withstanding that fact, however, the album is absolutely killer. This is definitely a standout in the local metal/hardcore field.

“Rapture,” the fourth track on the disc, is by far the best. Alternating between fast riffs and slow grinding ones, the track sets up a song that begs for a circle pit, replete with floorpunching and slam dancing. “Smothered” is a standout as well, with a machine-gun drum beat propelling the song along at 100 miles an hour, with a surprising melodic guitar line hidden behind the vocals.

The disc is amazingly tight. For music that is this hit-and-run, a band has to be really on the ball, or it comes off as sloppy crap. Happily, Esoteric can handle the speed and tempo changes with ease. They could stop on a dime - and give you nine and a half cents change.

As cohesive as they are, however, this album just does not have much mass appeal. I’d love to tell all fans of local music to go pick this up at your local record store, but it’s just a sad fact that if you listen primarilly to The Creature Comforts or Reflector, this disc is just going to scare the bejeezus out of you. Clearly, it's not for everyone. But if it's for you... you know who you are.

It’s a fantastic release, and a must-have if you’re into grind, metal, or hardcore. It’s definitely for anyone into the “heavier stuff.” But if you’re more on the pop edge of things, you may want to hold it at arm’s length.