Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Esben & the Witch: " A New Nature"

Formed in 2008 this is the band's third full length. While it might not be as ethereal or experimental as their previous album, the songwriting has been fine tuned.  the more doom folk elements are set against post-rock in the same zip code as Russian Circles. The focal point of there sound is
Bassist Rachael Davis' vocals are a smooth cynical croon.

 This band gets compared to Chelsea Wolfe, because she does have a somewhat ghostly quality to her voice on their earlier efforts, this album finds her voice stripped and pushed naked out in center stage. They would be shades of gray if you are comparing the brand of darkness this British band invokes versus that of  Chelsea Wolfe. While she doesn't have the pipes of Wolfe, Davis is no slouch, her honest and passionate delivery picks up the slack when her melodies laze about some of the throbbing riffs.

After the ten minute epic opening, when they drop down into the hushed "Dig Your Fingers In" the results seem at first a little underwhelming as it takes the bulk of the song for it to build. Though once you go back an give the album further listens this is not as jarring. The song is carried by her voice and rather minimal instrumentation just providing enough of a pulse to keep the song alive until the final minute and a half when it kicks in.

The burly bass of "No Dog" really serves as a sonic bulldozer to push the song along. Dynamics are one of the bands strong points, they drop the barreling bass down into a faint creepy plea. By the end of the song this band is beginning to remind me of Forget Cassettes, though more droning . The fourteen minute "the Jungle" begins with her fragile vocal . The lyrics seem to be somewhat inspired by the movie Antichrist as the line "Chaos Reigns" appears and it seems to be centered around the dark side of nature. The first half of the song stays on a hypnotic course, before the trumpet comes in.

The doomy vibe rears it's head on "Those Dreadful Hammers". The trumpet wails out in the distance from behind the feedback like a post-apocalyptic take on Miles Davis.The album creeps back down from this on "Wooden Star". The brooding on this album is on a much different frequency than would be found on a metal album or in a manner that might be though of as goth. The jazz swagger of "Blood Teachings" find the band continuing their surreal sprawl into the drugged glow of the early morning hours. It lingers rather than plods, which keeps this band from being actual doom, along with the hesitance to really stomp into the distortion, however it makes when they do that much more effective.

The two minute "Bathed in Light" sounds more like an outro than a fully formed song, as it hangs on a similar melody. So for the point of scoring this album I am not counting that one. The album is lush and ambitious it deserves to be rounded up to a 9.5. Worth your time if you like dynamic and moody indie rock with a morose slant.

A New Nature by Esben and the Witch

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