Taking their name from a well-known Danish fairytale, the trio from Brighton entered with confidence the alternative rock world. A series of EPs and three full-length records, with Violet Cries and Wash The Sins Not Only the Face especially standing out, has led the band down an interesting road, as their alternative rock style took on elements from indie rock to post-rock, and fused with a gothic take on pop music. Building momentum, they are now releasing their fourth full-length, first through Season of Mist, Older Terrors. The record attempts to follow the path of the band's previous record, A New Nature in the crafting of longer tracks with a stronger narrative.
The aspect that dominates the scenery for Esben and The Witch is the hypnotizing quality that their music takes on. Starting from ethereal melodies, the band constructs an otherworldly realm, at times even leaning towards a dream pop domain. When Rachel Davies' vocals are introduced the experience simply goes over the top and you find yourself under the band's spell. It is the perfect setting for an artful storytelling to take place, with the band carefully structuring their tracks, exploring different themes and taking their time with the progression before switching gears. That is where the post-rock element helps immensely, enriching further the elusive tone and also introducing heavier elements and building walls of sound in the process.
It is a melancholic record, and that mood dictates the process, from the dream pop sceneries to the goth intricacies. In this vein we also experience a quite darkwave move, with a track such as “The Reverist” shedding light and projecting the romanticism that lies in the core of Esben and The Witch. The trio has looked into sources outside of music to broaden their horizons, and found a tremendous amount of inspirations from the works of poet Edward Young, especially his Night-Thoughts poetry collection, as well as artists John Martin and Caspar David Friedrich.
In a certain respect each of these influences has played a part in the final product that is Older Terrors. Young has provided the lyricism for the record, the inherit romantic spirit, the foundation for the narrative. The interest towards Friedrich has granted a naturalistic element, that moves towards a folky domain, an allure towards the majesty of the natural world. And finally, Martin provides the apocalyptic side, the inescapable end and destruction that will occur. These elements are projected extensively through the tales of Older Terrors, and Esben and The Witch maximize their impact.
7.7 / 10
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