Naming themselves after a sinister Danish fairy tale, Brighton’s Esben And The Witch are a band who have put a lot of effort in to making their gothic music seem real. Their authenticity extends to song titles representing distinctly dark ideas. For instance, ‘Eumenides’ comes from the names of deities of vengeance in Greek mythology, ‘Argyria’ is an allergic reaction to silver whilst ‘Chorea’ refers to involuntary dance-like movements.
‘Argypia’ encapsulates modern goth music. Although it’s initial sounds of tribal noise recall Siouxsie And The Banshees, the music then moves into post-rock territory with the usual apocalyptic results. It’s a disarming start but not entirely representative of the trio. ‘Marching Song’ is more arresting and also more original. Here, frontwoman Rachel Davies comes in to her own with menacing chanting. Though it’s stunningly atmospheric, it can be considered less as a song, more a promise of eternal doom. It’s a feeling that’s exacerbated further by the accompanying video which depicts the three band members’ faces becoming more battered and bruised with every moment.
Events never get quite so dramatic after that as the intensity often gives way to ethereal subtlety. Nevertheless, ‘Marine Fields Glow’ is just as captivating and haunting as the louder material. ‘Light Streams’ and ‘Eumenides’ revert to pounding rhythms again whilst the excellent ‘Hexagons IV’ piles on the echo with chilling effect.
Whereas many of today’s gothic acts can seem hamfisted and contrived in their approach, no one could doubt the commitment of Esben And The Witch to the cause. Tunes may be in short supply but it would be hard to find modern music which is as macabre, spine-tingling and riveting as this.
Warpaint, Siouxsie And The Banshees