Esben And The Witch – Wash The Sins Not Only The Face – Matador Records
Hailing from Brighton, Esben And The Witch are a band who are not afraid to experiment with atmosphere, fear and magic. They do not compromise, but ‘Wash The Sins Not Only The Face’ is proof that they do learn and grow. The debut album, Violet Cries from January 2011, was a truly terrifying and haunting experience, it’s fantastic but intense. While the second album keeps the same themes and style its song have structure and beautiful, at times almost Warpaint like, melodies. I described the first album as being lost in a strange wood alone at night; this album is to go back to those woods with purpose and a flickering candle.
The album opens with the grand crescendo of crashing noise that is ‘Iceland Spar’. This occasionally gives way to Rachel Davies ghostly cries as guitar chimes gently away, the crash of instruments reappearing now and again, swift as the wind and as fierce as a storm. ‘Slow Wave’ is more peaceful and haunting with all the atmosphere of the first album but with more of a structure and dreamy luxurious melodies thanks to Thomas Fisher and Daniel Copeman.
‘When The Head Splits’ shimmers and swoons with a strong drum beat to carry, intricate melodies and Rachel’s passionate haunted croon cries out; its dark, dangerous and seductive. ‘Shimmering’ and ‘Yellow Wood’ are more reminiscent of their debut, brooding and enchanting, as they twirls in the air like glittery smoke from a forest fire. Single ‘Deathwaltz’ combines jangling melodic and desperate wailing guitars with running drums. It’s their most conventional song, the definite single, but without losing their style of murder and mystery, a bridge between the albums.
‘Despair’ shimmers and soars with frantic drums and heavenly cries, it builds into a screaming climax of feedback only to momentarily simmer back down. It’s a song on edge, fight or flight. ‘The Fall Of Glorieta Mountain’ is slow and thoughtful with innocent melancholic guitar, haunting keyboard and wistful vocals. It’s a beautifully heartbreakingly empty and emotional song. It drifts sedately into the ending track
‘Smashed To Pieces In The Still Of The Night’ which broods and builds. Haunted running guitars lead over a misty electronic background and subtle drums. Rachel’s poetic cry croons seductively, repeating the title in a whisper while guitars become increasingly agitated as fast military drums come to the foreground building into a frightening crescendo only to suddenly end. Silence follows and a feeling of fear of the dark…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w61LU6AvvPo - 'Deathwalz'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEVFw74iOd8 - Despair'