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The Esoteric 

With All That Remains, Reflux, and Cannae. Wednesday, November 23, at the Agora Theatre.

An unnerving number of albums released in recent years have featured near-identical blends of headbanging riffs, fancy double-bass drum work, and lightning-fingered guitar solos. But it would be wrong to suggest that metalcore has become a total aesthetic dead end. It's always possible that some band will revitalize the genre. It's just not likely to be either of these outfits.

Despite's apparent belief that they're the same band, the Esoteric has not yet been served with cease-and-desist papers by the U.K. doom-metal outfit Esoteric, which is good news for metalcore fans. Their album, With the Sureness of Sleepwalking, is competently produced, with some nice guitar leads and a great drum sound. The vocalist is all too typical, though, screaming himself hoarse with no dynamics or tonal variation. Ultimately, despite a few interesting noises, it's hard to tell one Esoteric song from another.

Their labelmate, All That Remains, the new band of former Shadows Fall vocalist Phil Labonte, is similarly unencumbered by imagination. This Darkened Heart, its 2004 album, features a broad array of crunchy riffs engineered to please fans of Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, Atreyu, Unearth . . . You get the idea.

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