Esben and the Witch
(Season of Mist)
We’re at a point where very few bands are going to surprise us with new sounds, at least without sounding certifiably insane. UK (via Berlin) group Esben and the Witch do actually carve out their own sound through doses of the established styles. Their Gothic post-rock feels like a jumping point from the beautiful music The Gathering had been pumping out, but this group does this a tad bit differently. A lot of the similarity is in the truly haunting female vocals of Rachel Davies (she’s truly excellent here), but Esben and the Witch are more effective as a unit. These four long tunes build and build until they are almost uncomfortable (seemingly purposefully so). Latent doom and atmospheric black metal influences are found in the transcendent crescendos, and it’s clear that the group are extremely comfortable with long-form songwriting. Each of these four songs may be a tad repetitive at points, but given their chosen moniker, that seems more of an intentional decision to invoke spell-like sensations. For just about all of the album’s 40-plus minute run-time, Esben and the Witch prove to be true alchemists in the art of beautiful post-rock.