Esben and the Witch - Violet Cries
Gaining a steady momentum for the past couple of years now, Brighton’s Esben and the Witch have finally delivered their debut full-length and deemed it fit to see the light of day, having lurked in the shadows for so long. Yet the darkest recesses of the mind are where this band seems to thrive, and the gloomy, eerie atmosphere projected by Violet Cries is one to get completely lost in.
The imposing opening buzz of ‘Argirya’ serves to sum up the trio pretty well, building layers of sound and gloomy melody while Rachel Davies' familiar wail rises up in the background amongst glitchy electronics until it reaches a noisy crescendo and the calm settles in, and that’s just in five short minutes. It’s this contrast between beautiful composition and dense walls of noise that they get so right, and tracks like ‘Light Streams’ with its woven guitar melodies and the percussive driving force of previous single ‘Marching Song’ show this to amazing effect.
Having spent much of the previous year touring their darkened hearts out, much of the material that was played live is here given a chance to breathe and spread its wings. ‘Eumenides’ in particular has turned into a ever-changing beast of a track, with the delicately picked guitars ringing out and then all sense of peace shattered as sheets of harsh, throbbing static cut through your ears. ‘Swans’ ends the album in a ghostly crawl, with Rachel’s powerful vocals recalling those of Mariam Wallentin of Wildbirds & Peacedrums, and leaving us downbeat and downtrodden yet wanting just a little bit more of their sweet discipline. They may have taken their time in delivering us a full album, but the result is mightily impressive.