Esben & The Witch / Violet Cries / Matador
Sometimes it’s exciting to be a bit terrified. UK three-piece Esben & The Witch aren’t afraid to illustrate such an unfamiliar emotion, what with the group reinventing a sound the common critic would associate with a faded piece of history called Evanescence. Violet Cries isn’t quite metal and is far from emo; it’s better than that. The debut from the BBC Sound Of 2011 nominee tranquilizes the term “gothic”. Where the rebellious whimper about having their heart shattered into a thousand uneven pieces, Esben & The Witch moan as if they fell into a lover’s quarrel and watched their beloved soul mate rip their beating heart from them, leaving an empty carcass of complex feelings.
Part of the gloomy dejection is due to singer Rachel Davies. Indie addicts will trip over their own feet to hear her voice, one riddled with a form of blues that was just meant to be with the group’s concoction of shoegaze post-rock and experimental electronica. “Your veins are my trenches, my gun is my own,” she proclaims on “Marching Song”, one of the few where lyrics are clear over the attrition of sound. Violet Cries dances with psychedelia, thanks to a ballad echoing with misery (“Marine Field Glows”) and a six-minute dream (“Eumenides”) laced with a horrific guitar riff that erupts into a celestial rhythm. It’s an atmospheric LP testing boundaries, artistic limits and volume and when it finds its soul (see opener “Argyria”), it’s a seductive nightmare.
Download: “Argyria”, “Euminedes”
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