Like you, Kansas’ the Esoteric have suffered listening to albums that’re unremittingly extreme. First reaction, adrenaline; 12 minutes later, drooling and slumber. So they pick a tougher path -- heavy shit boosted by sky-climbing guitars and switchback rhythms. And their latest disc, Subverter, shows they’ve got the legs for it.
Wimps can apply elsewhere; voxman Steve Cruz rasps as hatefully as anyfuck, sounding formidable even when he sings a few notes. The guitars of Cory White and Eric Graves layer and spar through a full spectrum of attack strategies: balladic melodies (“Science Is Sexy”), tidal Isis immersion (“Language Is a Virus”), proggy cartography (“You Are the Execution”), heavy riffsmanship and dissonant stabs (“Clone Culture and the Cut-Up Method”). Throughout, the Esoteric strike an unlikely balance of murk and clarity, disruption and coherence.
At root, this is a rhythm band. With bassist Anthony Diale right on top, drummer Marshall Kilpatric slaps counteraccents, whips beats into water-prop turbulence, takes stuttery rhythm breaks, all while muscling the beast steadily forward. Nice trick.
Subverter was released back in October, and the Esoteric didn’t tour behind it because White and Kilpatric left. But the group will return, and meanwhile this is one slab you should keep stubbing your toe on, just to remember how good it hurts. (Greg Burk)