Lawrence, KS-based post-hardcore act the Esoteric underwent a band tragedy of immense proportions in 2005 when their combination rehearsal space/communal house burnt to the ground, costing them their home plus all of their personal effects, instruments, and equipment. The fire isn't directly addressed on Subverter, but a general hope-through-adversity vibe prevails in Steve Cruz's lyrics on songs like "Don't Waste Guts" and the anthemic closer, "Clone Culture and the Cut-Up Method." (This song title is one of two that directly address the band's Lawrence homeboy William S. Burroughs, the other being the brief and atypically groove-oriented instrumental "Language Is a Virus.") Underneath Cruz's impassioned singing, the band explores a wider variety of sonic approaches than its previous album, With the Sureness of Sleepwalking, adding more keyboards, flirtations with almost dancey rhythms, and a more varied use of effects and heavily processed guitar sounds. Unfortunately, the album's thin and compressed sound negates some of this experimentation by leaving the cool sounds buried in a bad, flat mix.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason