Review: Dealthwaltz by Esben and the Witch

Releasing a preview track of their upcoming second album, here’s a review of ‘Deathwaltz’ by Esben and the Witches.

Ah the difficult second album. As fans wait in anticipation for what a band are going to do next it’s a daunting task for any musical talent. Amidst the magical leisure of Brighton town Esben and the Witch have been brewing their next instalment ‘Wash The Sins Not Only The Face’ and have released ‘Deathwaltz’ as the track to test the water for the albums’ release in January.

Following in the footsteps of Bat For Lashes’ with dreamy guitars and echoed vocals, Esben and the Witch’s new track has more direction and positive energy poured into it compared to their previous work from their debut album ‘Violet Cries’. Straight from the off you’re confronted with this upbeat version of their former selves, something I personally think is a better direction to follow as it entices a wider spectrum of fans that are in line with the moody vocals of bands such as The XX, mixed with an indie sound that utilises familiar guitar riffs and progressive drum beats.

By initiating a waltz type pace, ‘Deathwaltz’ is a steady track that grasps you right from the intro, while the minor changes in chord progressions confuse the ears but works so well when delving from verse to chorus taking it a step aside from anything too mainstream.

Borderline repetitive until half way through, the mood becomes even more eerie as it builds with guitars and drums one by one into a melody that is fast paced and makes your mind wonder as if you’re walking through a dark wooded area on a journey to something even more sinister. As the instrumental continues and goes on for a further two minutes you start to question whether Rachel’s beautiful vocals are going to make a return, instead it was left as a cliff-hanger while the guitars faded out into a haze of ringing and distant feedback.

If at all intentional, I can understand where the band is coming from in terms of taking the listener through a journey, however I wouldn’t necessarily release this track as a single but it could definitely stand as the opener to the upcoming album, starting off the adventure and leading it on to the rest.

In five minutes Esben and the Witch have managed to squeeze in a transition of genres that solidifies their return as an alternative trio, but also hints at their new direction of guitar driven riffs while staying true to their haunting nature that they’re known best for. It’ll be interesting to see if the rest of the album follows suit.

‘Wash The Sins Not Only The Face’ is set to be released 21 January through Matador Records.

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