Esoterica Codex Blog Update for 2018

Hello all and welcome to a new year of new jamz, new ramblings, new angry Florida Man rants, new ways to sign that bat signal on bullshit that tends to clog up my social media newsfeed, and more. I just want to take a time to talk about a few things that will be happening in 2018 for EC.

First everyone who knows about the latest news that I am now married. My wife and I are expecting our beautiful baby daughter to arrive to us in April. So if and when that happens you don’t see as many postings or blogs about whatever, it’s me doing Daddy stuff and taking care of my kid. With that said, I will try to stay as frequent as posting and reviewing jamz, and whatever else that pops into my ADHD brain.

Hailz to Dad Metal 

Second, seeing how there isn’t many releases coming out in the month of Janurary or Feburary except for a few, I’ll instead use this time to go back to last year and review albums that I either overlooked, missed, OR actually started reviewing but didn’t get a chance to finish the drafts because life was going at a very rapid pace and I was very busy kicking ass for the most part. Also finish up that Dungeon Synth series that I started and never finished which I haven’t gotten to the bad part of that one yet.

Third, thanks to everyone who has shown support(you know who you are), and are still sticking around to read and take a crack at my caffienated brain-pickings. Your support will  never go un-noticed nor will I never not give the hails you deserve.

With all of that said, I your trusty angry Florida Man, will be keeping a bottle of white wine and a pack of Camels on hand to be ready at all times. Keep your eyes and ears open.


The Song Of A Long Forgotten Ghost: A Beginner’s Guide To Dungeon Synth Music Part 2 (The Goblin King)

Upon first doing this short series, I won’t lie and admit I was a bit hesitant. Why? Various reasons. None negative, but for the most part I sadly felt that this was a new fad that would shortly start going the usual route of so many before. But then having a few of my close friends basically elbowing me and saying “Dude, check this shit out!” I more or less let go of all pretenses and started listening to this new form of synth music while at work with an open mind. I don’t know what happened in my warped dank mind still reeling from my surgery and dealing with the aftermath Hurricane Irma. May be it had to do that I finally didn’t have to listen to terrible Top 40 Pop/RnB/whatever type of music blaring thru the overhead speakers at work. But I almost felt a certain wave of nostalgia hit me that I haven’t felt in a good while. Not bad nostalgia, but the good kind when one remembers discovering something for the first time and it leaves such a huge impression on you that it sadly guarantees you to never get laid for the remainder of your life. At least for me at that particular pre-Internet time frame. I got to re-discover something that I had locked in the dusty old attic that is my mind. In a way it helped me use my imagination in a way that I haven’t used it in quite some time. So may be there is something healthy to doing such.

First part of this series I started to go into the roots of Dungeon Synth discussing about several pieces that would go on to influence the now what seems like over-night explosion of Dungeon Synth. But I didn’t really talk or discuss about one massively important artist to the sub-genre. Upon first writing this, I found myself wanting to talk more about his music than just 3 or 4 sentences. I felt that this was a good time to really delve into the gentleman’s discography and give you a good representation of what it was like growing up as a black metal-obssessed teen in the 90’s pre-Internet times. I don’t have keep you in suspense or myself so ladies and gentleman, the moment that both you and I had been waiting for; the man with the pointy ears, hook nose, batwings, and chainmail, and Norway’s most famous troll and Blix’s brother: MORTIIS!

Let’s start at the very beginning with his 1993 demo “The Song Of A Long Forgotten Ghost.” Released on cassette form in June of that year, Mortiis did something completely fucking different. He released an entire demo of dark ambient synth music with zero vocals. That had never been done before by a (former) black metal musician. Be it Norwegian or otherwise. I had noted in the previous part that his fellow Norwegians in Mayhem and Burzum did 1 or 2 songs, but never a full demo. Another big thing was that of the direction he took: minimalist, cheaply-made, and Medieval-sounding. This gentleman was living in 2017 while everyone else was stuck in 1992. By dropping the bass guitar in Emperor and doing a solo project with a Casio keyboard, he would go on to record entire albums of dark ambient music that even in 2017, the influence of his early visions can still be felt.

Mortiis’s 1994 debut album “Født til å herske” is ground zero for Dungeon Synth Music. Released on Malicious Records, and then re-released under his own label Dark Dungeon Records. Hell even the genre name itself is a respectable wordplay on Mortiis’s very own label.  Mortiis went straight for the abstract. Not only furthering the medieval sounds but also adopting the imagery of a mythological Norwegian troll/goblin placing him way beyond your typical panda corpsepaint. It should be noted that even his Norwegian troll/goblin costume would also change from album to album but still managing to keep a complete mystique about him that was just scream “Fuckin’ sweet!” It’s an LP with one long song divided into two tracks and the first time we hear vocals in Mortiis music. It’s Dungeon-y and medieval sounding but when Mortiis’ vocals finally make themselves known it turns into this weird hypnotic ritual-esque chanting. For a debut, I absolutely personally love this one.

Mortiis released his second full length LP, titled “Ånden som gjorde opprør” on the now legendary and defunct Cold Meat Industries in 1994. It’s right about here where Mortiis is in full control. The maestro to his very own opera creating landscapes with the flick of a wrist. The artwork shows actual Norwegian landscape and gives Mortiis vision a physical location. It’s also noted that this is what a lot of Mortiis fans consider their favorite album from his classic Era 1 period.

Keiser av en dimension ukjent” is the next album by Mortiis released in 1995. If anything this is a sister album expansion of “Ånden som gjorde opprør.” It also the transitional album to the next compilation album that most people still consider a full-length. By now Mortiis had done not only Emperor, and his main solo project, but two other side projects that included Vond and Fata Morgana. Both of which are more extensions of his particular form of dark synth music even going in a more Darkwave direction.

Crypt Of The Wizard” is what many consider to be Mortiis’ grand opus. This album is not so much a full-length, but a compilation of ten songs gathered from no less than five EPs all put out through Mortiis very own Dark Dungeon record label. These five EPs which all contained two songs each combined with the adorning artwork by well-known Swedish artist John Bauer. Put together and you have a compilation that at the end of the day might as well be considered a full-length. Regardless of what you consider this LP to be, “Crypt of The Wizard” is the album that got many people here in the states to take notice and was the first ever bit of exposure of Mortiis to 90’s teens such as myself. This is what started many of us on our own personal quest to find out more about this mysterious artist who looked like Blix from the 80’s Tom Cruise film “Legend.”

Taking a break from his music, let’s look a bit at the brilliant and original imagery Mortiis displayed in the 90’s while the majority of his countrymen were looking like sad pandas:


I first saw this same image in Metal Maniacs in ’97/’98.  Suffice to say it was the coolest fucking thing I had seen up until that point in my entire life. Mind you black metal imagery was one thing….Mortiis was on a completely different level and made just basically everyone else seemed not-so sincere to their choice of musical craft. On top of  a compilation LP, he also made a limited-edition home video (2000 copies total) of him walking around in a Swedish castle outside of Gothenburg in full Mortiis goblin attire and costume. For a peak into the past and pre-Internet era, check this video clip out:

Very spooky stuff

After the release of the “Crypt Of The Wizard” compilation LP, Mortiis made the big jump from both Cold Meat Industry/Dark Dungeon Music to Earache Music. At this time, black metal was as huge as it had gotten. Certain big name record labels were all cashing in, and Earache wanted a piece of the pie, so they picked up Mortiis. The album “The Stargate” was released and more and more people picked up on what he was doing, particularly in the UK. It should be noted that the music contained on “The Stargate” is the last full length album he did that contained full on dark ambient synth music. But here, there’s other sounds added to the pallet such as female vocals, and possibly the most “full” medieval soundtrack you’ll find outside of “Lord Of The Rings” soundtrack. “The Stargate” is basically the end of of what Mortiis himself referred to as Era 1. What he did next after completely doing away with the troll-y nature of the character and music he created was not just the most shocking thing he had done up until this point, but possibly his most criminally underrated album ever:

He decided to go straight Industrial/Electronic.

The Smell Of The Witch“, while not only signifying the second Era of his music but a completely overhaul of not just the image and look of Mortiis, but the sound. Gone are the dark ambient synths, and in place is loud, noisey Industrial/Goth dance music with guitars. And in all honesty, at the time, it was much needed. Had Mortiis keep going on with his Era 1 type music, he would have ended in self-parody like KISS or something corny of the sort. Mortiis stepped out from the darkness of the dungeon and onto the dance floor and shocked everyone that for one he has a good voice. So if you’re open-minded enough, you will appreciate “The Smell Of The Witch.” I know I have for years. As far as the rest of discography past this point? Meh. I don’t exactly register myself as a fan of those albums. Nothing negative to say about those other than it’s his music and he can do whatever he wants to with it but for me…..I’m staying in the dark dank dungeons of Norway somewhere in ’97. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.

But the story doesn’t stop there. Or so you would believe that it would. This year Foreign Sounds/Children of The Night released a BEAUTIFULLY made limited edition wooden cassette boxset that contained the first Mortiis demo and the first three Era 1 albums on cassette tape. Complete for nerdy fanbois such as myself. Did I get one? You bet your sweet ass I did. Take a look for yourself:


These box sets sold-out within an hour of being posted online. I barely lucked-out but thankfully I did. Out of all the things I own in my personal music collection, it’s probably one of my most valued.

Wrapping all this discussion and talk about Mortiis up, to say that I’m a fan is a bit of an understatement. For all intents and purposes, Mortiis made a huge impression on me as a teen and his music still lives on in 2017. These days his Era 1 music is still fascinating. Even for a time period that I wasn’t listening to his music, I wouldn’t deny the impact he had on my ever-growing tastes from that particular time period of my youth. He provided more of a classic sense of escapism and at what better time in pre-Internet social-media based clusterfuck dumpster fire of the current year? In the 90’s that was the goal. And I’m sure that now more than ever escapism is still a much-needed thing but the depressing part is that I’m at an age where I don’t experience it as much as when I did when I was younger. Yeah I can totally isolate myself in my house and listen to music, and read books, or do whatever….but is it the same effect? Not really. Time then stood still forever, and now nearing 35, time is going by faster. But it is nice to come back to certain things that you remember completely shattering your world and concept of what an actual ARTIST should or should not be. If anything, Mortiis defined art in the most absurd way possible through synths, noses, batwings, daggers, dungeons and all. I would hate to sound cliche and say something to effect of “If you weren’t there, you wouldn’t understand.” But it’s true. Believe it, Comrades. If you need further proof, Decibel writer/Krieg frontman and online grouch Neill Jameson did an amazing fucking interview with Mortiis himself that goes further into the mythology that he created himself and his views on the music he’s created during his lifetime.

Next part of the Dungeon Synth series, I’m going to talk a bit about what made a lot of people start walking away from the synths and completely rebel against something that was rebellious in the first place. This part of the history of Dungeon Synth gets really fucking cringe-worthy.

Full Of Hell has a heart like a graveyard on “Trumpeting Ecstasy.”

If anything one should expecting from the new Full Of Hell album “Trumpeting Ecstasy,” just take a look at the front cover: as blasphemous and unholy abomination of Death/Grind/Noise/etc all put through the Hardcore aesthetic of not giving a single fuck about the listener and throwing them into a world of absolute chaos.

Full-of-Hell-2017.jpgOut of the coal mines and straight into the fiery furnace

The new Full Of Hell has been one of those top anticipated albums of 2017 off the Profound Lore Records roster and for good reason; they are a band that have been making enough noise(that’s not a pun) and doing their own D.I.Y. tours and putting out splits and collaborations with artists such as The Body, Merzbow, Nails, and forging their own unorthodox path while turning heads onto their own brand of controlled chaos. And the great thing about their specific brand is that there is something for everyone of every particular sub-culture be it the doom-laden tortoise-like crawl of  “Gnawed Flesh,” the 2-step up-beat(!) mosh of “Ashen Mesh,” the eerily gothic female vocals of the title track, the subtle black metal-esque tremolo riffing of “The Burning Of Yew,” and even some noodling melodies that would remind someone of last year’s Blood Incantation album “Starspawn” in the song “The Cosmic Vein.” Where as that album was an advancement in galaxies and the the unknown ancient ass-end of the universe, Full Of Hell is the the simple and cataclysmic fiery raining down of asteroids leaving uninhabited planets completely black and blue.

0009666121_10 “I am here to defy God.”

Building up to the release of this highly-anticipated album, the first two singles off the album was extremely well-executed on Profound Lore Records. That’s something that I feel is extremely important for not just the band themselves but the label in order to promote an upcoming product/vision from the artist themselves. The first single/preview track was the opening “Deluminate” was a good shock to the system that helped knock some of the rust off, “the second single/preview track from Profound Lore Records aptly and bitterly-titled “Crawling Back To God“(Possibly song title of the year for me, so fucking unholy!) with guest vocals by Aaron Turner of Isis fame, which just bleeds and fucking oozes the old-school Swedish death metal vibe that ends in the collective artists screaming in acid-drenched vocals “ON BENT KNEES, CRAWLING BACK TO GOD!” Previous excellent examples for my personally would be bands like Celtic Frost(Monotheist-era), Nails, Paradise Lost, Leviathan(another Profound Lore Records artist), A.M.S.G., and a couple others so having Full Of Hell do this same pattern that CORRECTLY hyped me the fuck up and the entire album being better expected, “Trumpeting Ecstasy” for me is what Code Orange‘s “Forever” SHOULD have been as far as a better executed in the mixture of metal/hardcore/noise/electronics department….don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking shit because I appreciate Code Orange as well and did enjoy some songs off that album, but let’s cut the bullshit here; “Forever” by Code Orange was – and I know I am not the only person who felt this – hype as fuck. Full Of Hell is the real deal Holyfield son. And if you’re not falling down further into the abyss by the time “At The Cauldron’s Bottom” kicks in for a womppin’ six minutes and twenty three seconds and huffing some good drugs provided to you by some cackling witch stewing her brew and making you hallucinate.

This is one album you’ll be dying to get into. Case closed.

Full Of Hell‘s “Trumpeting Ecstasy” is out now on Profound Lore Records. You can listen to it here on Bandcamp and follow the band at their official FB page. But seriously…just buy the damn album.

Know Your Roots Part 3: The northern skies are set ablaze

Continuing the KYR series, now we come to one of the more/most important periods of my musical evolution/progress….

I was 14/15 when what I felt what I was hungering and craving for in terms of music finally came into my grasp. I had just discovered and already religiously reading the now defunct wide-spread Metal Maniacs magazine publication. It seemed like it was meant to be considering where I lived in my humble and quiet surroundings of Bartow, Fl. At every Circle K gas station, even the Publix, Winn-Dixie and Food Lion grocery stores, it was there. Outside of my home town, it was harder to find ironically even if I was else be it in the central Florida and southern Louisiana locations. But every month from when I first started reading it, the new issues were there providing me with VIP access to the underground. Articles, album reviews, and names flooded me at a pace where I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep-up but somehow I managed to not only go back and discover classic albums by the likes of Celtic Frost, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Venom and Sodom, but I also found ways of obtaining albums by the likes of Mayhem, Emperor, Darkthrone, Dimmu Borgir, Immortal, Gorgoroth, Satyricon, Mortiis, etc. Mind you this was around 96-97 so I basically jotted down and searched out whatever I could in those truly dark days of the metal underground. And that right there really depends on your perspective if you were around in that particular time period. One of the albums that warped my little developing brain was the classic 1985 album “To Mega Therion” by Celtic Frost. Still to this day nothing compares to it.

Death Metal was dead, or so they said. But when Tampa is literally in your backyard, the party from 1993 was still happening for those of us who were a generation younger. We still sought out the OOP classic albums all while Black Metal was just basically starting to make it’s way over to the States. It took a while for kids like me to pick up on it but when I did, there was truly and absolutely NOTHING like it. Everything that had come before was really a pale-comparison. Reading the interviews and looking at certain album titles already let me know what the fuck was up. And to make matters worse, I was really the only teen in my neck of the woods that was remotely interested in this new found genre of music. And I loved it that way.

It took every taboo. Every bit of shock. Every single ounce of negativity and multiplied it by a thousand. And the ass-kicker was that these Nordic gentleman were doing these actual real-life crimes against everything that went against normal society’s boundaries. They took all the repressed fantasies and comic book imagery and made it real. The fact that they were doing what they were doing and basically putting their words into action caught my attention quickly. And their ultra-serious sense of dedication made it seem more dangerous to even think about simply by the act of knowing about it. And all of this was solidified that I knew I was onto something so extreme just by the way how my classmates listened to metal one year and the next start listening to Master P(I’m really showing my fucking age here). To put it in perspective, 90’s teens were thinking they were satanic for listening to Marilyn Manson by dressing up. Me? I was listening to musicians who actually stabbed their bandmates, committed suicide, burned down churches, stabbed homosexuals, and did other insane acts. So in this crazy immature way, it was a bit like competitive one-uppance. And any time I would try to discuss Black Metal with them, they simply backed off or felt like it was too much. My decision to not only support but immerse myself in this genre of music was made right then and there

I also listened to what was big at the time for metal-obsessed teens such as myself; “The Great Southern Trendkill” by Pantera, “Antichrist Superstar” by Marilyn Manson, “October Rust” by Type O Negative, “Aenima” by Tool, and the post-apocalyptic “Through Silver And Blood” by Neurosis. Next to Celtic Frost, Darkthrone, and Mayhem, Neurosis was another one of those albums that fucking hit me hard. My theory to why it did was because of the physical changes my body was going thru puberty. Combined with the awkwardness of being a teenager, the isolation of where I lived and the troubles at both home and school, for a good 3-4 year period for me it was the first time I ever felt what it was like to experience depression combined with a healthy dosage of teen angst. Not to mention I started to dress more extreme; cut-off baggy camo shorts, wallet-chains, that one year I completely shaved my head and rid myself of the traditional crew cut I was kinda forced to wear by my father, band shirts with satanic symbols, spiked wristbands, etc. Hell there was that one time I even found a mini spiked gauntlet I found at a local flea-market which I wore with pride. I even went as far as carving an inverted cross into my upper bicep(It was the 90’s, we did stupid shit like that as kids Ok?!) I not experienced the darkness, I reached out and WANTED to further explore it.  And the music I listened to perfectly reflected that darkness. For me, it was the ultimate form of catharsis I could find at the time. For all the age-old edgy and shocking shit that I did as a kid as far as acting-out, my parents were actually quite fucking liberal and lenient with all of this. I figured if I wasn’t doing drugs or getting into trouble, I could schlock it up as much as I wanted.

About this time, all while the floodgates of the underground opened and the search and hunt for more music, I came across a full-page advertisement for a mail-in catalog called Full Moon Productions. This was in 1997 whenever my parents and I moved to Lakeland, Florida which is really about 20-25 minutes north of Bartow. Lakeland is also the biggest city in Polk County. Upon looking thru the albums they had I found a couple that I had been searching for particulary. One of them was “Crypt Of The Wizard” by Mortiis. The other was “Under The Sign of Hell” by Gorogorth. I also noticed that FMP was literally located about 5-10 minutes away from where I lived at the time on Combee Road and FMP headquarters was located right off Edgewood Road. So I called up the number and asked if I could stop by and pick-up the albums and hand whomever ran the label the cash in hand just because I was one of those hyperactive kids that wasn’t patient enough to put up with the shitty postal system. The day I actually met FMP owner Jon “Thorns” Jamshid was another one of those life-changing moments. At the time I didn’t know how to properly act or anything of the sort but it wasn’t until later on that he told me that he was really impressed just due to my age and he never thought a kid like me would be into the underground extreme music scene. But for the next 10 years the gentleman basically became one of my good and closest friends and a mentor of sorts. He not only went on to let me help him in the FMP office by filling mail orders on certain days after school, but this dude had me at the forefront of the scene from roughly 1998-2006. If it really wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t know about the likes of Sarcofago, Black Witchery, Inquisition, Judas Iscariot, Strid, Ildjarn, Velvet Cacoon, Graveland, Nargaroth, Absu, Krieg, Leviathan, or even the more obscure 80’s stuff that wasn’t particular popular at the time such as Flames Of Hell, Incubus(Fl), Vulcano, Protector(Germany), Poison(Germany), Hobbs Angel of DeathPiledriver or Excorist. The list of bands he turned me onto goes on and on. On top of making weekly trips to FMP and coming out with a stack of like 10 CDs complete with shirts and fanzines, it was a fucking addiction. Not one of the worst addictions, but an addiction none the less. So in reality I am really forever in debt to him. I haven’t talked to him much ever since he moved his label from Lakeland to Colorado in 2007/2008-ish. I still see the occasional Official Facebook FMP page post that pops up every once in a while and comment on that. May be some things from the past are best left in the past to be preserved for what they were.


To be continued in the next installment of the Know Your Roots series. Things are about to get fucking weird(er)…