The Brighton three piece Espen and the Witch get snapped up by french metal label Season of Mist. Their fourth full length Older Terrors blurs the lines between trip hop like atmosphere and Portishead Third-like vocal delicateness and slow building doom riffs that don’t move buildings but add a gothic texture.
7/10 Clinton Staff review, 01 November 2016
Esben and the Witch are one of those bands that you'd imagine it would be fairly easy to be earnest to. Listening to the first of these four lengthy tracks I can feel that my brow is already furrowed. You have to go all the way back to All About Eve to find such a blend of goth and atmospheric rock but Esben and the Witch happen to do it very well. They've really stretched out their sound here and the songs drift on forever but you kind of get lost in them. The opening 'Sylvan' goes through several changes of mood and changes of pace before a noisy crescendo. Throughout Rachel Davies's voice swoops and swoons and spouts poetic verse about plumes and serpents and pyres.
The alarmingly bleak 'The Wolf's Sun' takes this to brutal extremes with cascading and doomy guitars and keening vocals one part Siouxie, one part Kate Bush. By God they are dramatic. Everything sweeps like a dark cloak being wafter over an ancient castle. The closing 'The Reverist' shows that they can be quiet too with just carefully plucked guitar providing atmospheres before sludgy ascending guitars are accompanied by Davies plaintive cry of 'Ships on Fire'...or 'Chips on Fire'. We may mock but these are gruesome post rock atmospheres that are completely overboard but really draw you in. Don't listen whilst alone in the house.
Music that is not for everyone but if the term goth-prog-post-rock makes your eyes light up with glee then it's safe to say you've found your musical nirvana.
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