From living in Brighton and playing tiny venues such as Oslo in Hackney and The Lexington in Islington to relocating to Berlin, being picked up by Season of Mist and having their music featured on the likes of Skins and Beavis & Butthead, Esben & The Witch’s rise to triumph is much like the protagonist of the Danish fairytale from which they take their name. Their brooding style of gothic pop is difficult to pigeonhole and being signed to a label that’s synonymous with heavier music causes concern that this would somehow compromise the unique sound the trio possess. Thankfully, neither the band’s sound or integrity have been compromised for ‘Older Terrors’ and they stick to the haunting, ethereal lullabies they are best known for.
This record doesn’t possess the pacey dynamics of ‘A New Nature’ – while the aforementioned felt like a rabid hunt through the forest at times, ‘Older Terrors’ is a much slower beast. The build-up on each track is much more drawn out, akin to a slow, stalking predator, which makes the eventual apogee all the more satisfying. There’s a power in the fragility of Rachel’s vocals, it’s vulnerable yet intimidating, softening to match the gentle vibrations of her bass guitar, then belting out alongside the manic warbles of the guitar on songs such as ‘Making the Heart of a Serpent’.
‘Older Terrors’ is completely enchanting, it displays Esben & The Witch in their best form yet; tremulous strings, unwavering percussion and pristine vocal delivery. A spellbinding listen that will surely capture the hearts of those who enjoy their music to be dark and covert. Fans of SubRosa, Darkher and PJ Harvey: pay attention.
(9/10 Angela Davey)