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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Review: Blood Thirsty Demons – Esoteric

Label: The Triad Records

Date: October 31st, 2022

Despite the red flags this release waved all over the place, it didn’t turn out all that bad. I mean, this is a one-man band from Italy. Both my phobia of one-man bands / projects and my indignation towards Italian extreme metal scene went into overdrive. Then there’s also the issue of this entity being led by a man who calls himself Cristian Mustaine. I believe the irony of born-again-Christian Mr. Dave Mustaine and this here Mr. Cristian who uses his last name as a pseudonym for a seemingly satanic musical project is clear to everyone reading these lines. Still, the pick of the pseudonym seems rather juvenile.

Other warning signs include the mere name of the project that fitted better with a full line-up, but I guess it would be weird to change it to singular now that it’s a one-man band. Also, using Alice Cooper’s track to cover and putting it in third place of the running order… Wow!

It all boils down to the extremely clichéd track titling. “Black Mass”, “Esoteric”, “Devil’s Church”, “Spiritual Path”, “The Believer”… Holy hell…

There was not a sign that wasn’t screaming at me to get as far away from “Esoteric” as possible.

But I didn’t. Mostly because Mr. Mustaine (no, not the real one) was kind enough to send me the CD which, admittedly, already improved my view of this band and album. Carefully designed, it shows that there’s thought and honest effort behind this project still, after twenty five years and eight full length records. Plus, I learned that the opening statement, the introduction if you will, titled “Holy Mountain” contains words and voice of Alejandro Jodorowsky. You want original? Here’s one you cannot find all that often, instead of seeing how many times we can misuse “O Fortuna”, or “Death March”.

Anyways, finishing off with the negatives, other than Mr. Jodorowsky’s speech, lyrics are as cliché as the titles to the songs. However, there’s a few personal revelations by the author that sound to me like he desperately tries to convince us of his devotion to esotericism, otherworldliness and… Wait, is that another born-again-Christian? Perhaps, since Cristian keeps telling us he will not follow the black beast, though he did when he was young, and perhaps not, who knows. Personal choices (which are, obviously, result of free will, so I’ve got nothing against them) aside, the author keeps floating on the juvenile side, while rapid-firing one cliché after the other.

On the musical side, however, Blood Thirsty Demons has an idea and is forcefully committed to making it come true. If I had to shove it into a drawer, I would dub it occult heavy metal. Occult not only because of the themes covered in the lyrics, but also the achieved eerie atmosphere. Mr. Cristian Mustaine takes from the origins of his home country’s early occult black metal, like Mortuary Drape and Death SS, fuses it with early doom metal bands such as Black Sabbath or Candlemass and even adds touches of first wave black metal in the vein of Venom or Celtic Frost. Some thrash metal also finds its way to the surface there, particularly in faster parts. A combination of the above numbered cannot but produce an old school feel to Blood Thirsty Demons, though it is wrapped in up-to-date production work which will surely make a couple of younger listeners think of “Esoteric” as “finally a metal version of Ghost B. C.”

Okay, Blood Thirsty Demons is not an innovative attempt at shifting the boundaries of any of the listed genres. “Esoteric” might just be called pretty derivative when it comes to the simple originality. Still, on a purely creative level, there’s stuff to be found within these fifty three minutes. Not enough, sadly, to make this a stellar effort, but there are some that sound intriguing and show what can be done in this regard.

For instance, though the keyboards are hauntingly chiming atop guitars, they could’ve been used to the album’s advantage if they were let on their way at least a few times. This way it just seems that the same notes are repeated, but on keys instead of strings. This approach works for the atmosphere but doesn’t for the imaginative grading of “Esoteric”.

Another aspect of Blood Thirsty Demons that needs urgent upgrade is the vocal. Mr. Mustaine is not a singer like Mr. Mustaine. See what I did there? Joking aside, Cristian uses a harsh tone, obviously going for a ghoulish approach of likeminded black heavy metal vocalists. But he simply hasn’t got strength enough to pull it through. The performance and execution are all there. There’s conviction to his delivery, showing he means what he screams about, but he needs a whole lot of singing lessons, even if only in extreme metal, so that he finds a way to sound the way he intends to.

Anyway, it is clear from my words up there that this is not a massive recommendation for all the listeners out there. There’s simply way too much music floating around to give “Esoteric” a chance. It’s far from junk and it’s not even a bad record, but there are so much better to choose from, even if looking at the contemporary scene. Still, dedication and devotion to a fully subjective project for all these years is commendable and I wish nothing but the best in the future to this blood thirsty demon.