Thursday 19 April 2018

Review: ESA – 'That Beast'

'That Beast'

Jamie Blacker's project ESA (Electronic Substance Abuse) may have taken a bit of a backseat to his duties with iVardensphere recently but the wait has definitely been worthwhile. With full-length offering number 6, 'That Beast', Blacker has kicked his songwriting into overdrive for a deliciously heavy and sumptuously produced album.

Blending elements of aggrotech, rhythmic industrial and power noise Blacker's sound has always been gritty but dance-friendly with poly-rhythms powering a tribal frenetic energy before drawing you in with deeper textures. 'That Beast' is true to this vision but ups the power and makes great use of hooks and melodies to further its infectious agenda.

Songs such as 'I have Clarity', 'Carry The Noose', 'Bad Blood Will Out', 'Like Meat (Spoiled)', and 'I Want It Now' are prime examples of this, hard, nasty distorted rhythms, aggrotech style progressions, and subtle melodies to give the album a strong backbone. While the likes of 'The Follow Me', 'Passing Over', and 'Take All Of This' get more playful with the elements either putting melodies or textures first to great effect.

Production-wise this is the strongest ESA album yet. There is grit and distortion throughout, but blacker has made the mix clear and gives all the elements plenty of room to manoeuvre so that the rhythms don't swamp the other elements. The end result is a dance-friendly and accessible take on the heavier end of the industrial spectrum.

'That Beast' is a brilliant album. ESA has always been more of a “critics band”, but there is a hell of a lot on here that is begging for the dancefloor, if in a more vicious manner than most club selections. 'That Beast' is... well... a beast of an album and one that should hopefully elevate the project higher. It's clear Blacker has given this album his all and it definitely pays off.

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