With The Sureness Of Sleepwalking

The Esoteric

Prosthetic, 2005


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


By all marks, I should hate The Esoteric. This Kansas-based quintet follows in the well-trod footsteps of many other nu-metal bands with a combination of crunching D-chord guitars, melancholy lyrics and vocals screamed like the singer's balls were caught in a meat grinder. Yeah, I should hate The Esoteric.

But, I don't. Actually, I like what I've heard.

Where this group takes a lead among their brethren is a display of some real musicianship, as heard on their third disc, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 With The Sureness Of Sleepwalking. With a solid combination of good songwriting and interesting twin-guitar interplay, everything else in the genre seems to fall right into line. While The Esoteric still could benefit from breaking away from some of the genre's cliches, they seem like they're well on their way on this disc.

The real key to The Esoteric's success, to my ears, seems to be the guitar duo of Cory White and Eric Graves. It would be one thing to just play crunching barre chords with heavy distortion -- and, frankly, that wouldn't be anything unusual. But White and Graves actually work in some musicianship, sometimes with chords that don't totally sound like they resolve 100 percent. I don't know why it works, but it indeed works well.

In fact, it makes all the difference on With The Sureness Of Sleepwalking. Tracks like "Ram-Faced Boy," "His Eternal Enemy" and "Until The Grave Gives Up The Ghost" turn into some songs that are not only interesting, but dare to challenge the stereotype of nu-metal that many people may have. Add into this Steve Cruz's anguished screams - which, more often than not, are decipherable, another unusual trait - and you have a mixture that borders on becoming grindcore metal.

Yet The Esoteric never dip their toe into that musical pool. Credit the rhythm section of bassist Anthony Diale and drummer Marshall Kilpatric for keeping the tempo on an even keel - and furthering the argument that The Esoteric may indeed be something special.

Granted, the formula starts to wear a little thin near the end, but the strength of songs such as "Unavoidable Conclusion" and "Somnambulist" prove the positives outweigh the negatives on this disc. (Admittedly, the disc gets off to a bit of an uneven start with "Disappearing...", but they're able to right the ship quickly enough.

What the future has in store for The Esoteric is not known, but if With The Sureness Of Sleepwalking is any sign, it should be an exciting ride to be part of.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2005 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Prosthetic, and is used for informational purposes only.