In writing about new music I sometimes become intrigued by the titles of records or songs, or by conceptual themes or cover art, even if none of that may have anything to do with the experience of listening. Driven by nothing more than intellectual curiosity, I find myself tunneling down internet rabbit holes to satisfy that curiosity, and maybe to learn something new along the way. That happened in spades with Allegoresis, the forthcoming second EP by the Tucson-based death metal band Exsul.
There were already manifold hints of Exsul’s unusual intellectual interests in the song titles on their 2020 self-titled debut EP, and even more so in the titles strewn across their new one. Consider the name of the first song that was revealed from Allegoresis: “How in the Land of Satin We Saw Hearsay, Who Kept a School of Vouching“.
At first I thought this might just be clever wordplay, substituting “Satin” for you-know-who and “Hearsay” for “Heresy”. But my researching revealed that it is instead the title of Chapter XXXI of The Fifth Book by the French Renaissance writer, physician, humanist, monk, and Greek scholar François Rabelais.
And that isn’t the only reference to a Rabelaisian work in the songcraft of Exsul. There’s another song on the new EP named “Pantagruelion“, which I discovered is a name given by Rabelais to “a magical plant capable through its many applications of furthering the progress of the human race”. It appears in The Third Book (Le Tiers Livre in French), yet another book of the heroic deeds and sayings of the giant kings Gargantua and Pantagruel.
And then there’s “Psychomachia“, the name of the song we’re premiering today. Here’s what you’ll find about “Psychomachia” in The Font of All Human Knowledge: