So, I’m currently sat in a taxi on my way to an unknown venue somewhere in Salford. I give the taxi driver an address I found online and he takes me down an almost pitch black alleyway which leads into a derelict industrial site, I’m a little worried. Two men stand outside and the taxi driver shouts “are those your guys?”, I timidly reply “I have no idea, mate”, but as I open the door and pay my fare the two guys ask me if I have any spare tickets to sell and I hear the sound of drums and rumbling bass lines. I’m starting to feel a little relieved. The venue in question is ‘The Bunker’, probably one of the most interesting venues I’ve ever been to and the perfect setting to hear the bewitching soundscapes of Brighton based trio ‘Esben And The Witch’. The performance space is pretty much in a square with wooden panels propped up around it, the audience cram themselves around three of its four walls and the back wall acts a screen to project visuals.

Support tonight comes from local outfit ‘Embers’, a six piece playing bold, majestic indie rock with lots of group vocals, tinklings of piano and violins that really helps lift their sound into big, almost cinematic space. They remind of early 00’s indie rock outfit ‘Hope Of The States’ in the way of their set up and how their songs burst into crescendos of crashing drums and soaring guitars, and their instant melodies and simple yet catchy group yelps are not too far off from Arcade Fire’s early material. An impressive support.

So, we’re in a dimly lit room with a roof that looks like it’s going to tumble down on us at any given moment, everyone is dressed in coats and hats huddling to keep warm and images of controlled explosions are projected onto the screen. I think we’re about ready for something gloomy and edgy. Esben And The Witch pretty much exploded on the underground scene  in 2011 with the release of their debut album ‘Violet Cries’ which arrived to good reviews and ensued a year of touring around the world building up a small yet devoted fan base. Two years on and the three piece have just released their second LP ‘Wash The Sins Not Only The Face’ which see’s them bring a much more expansive yet full tone to their already bewilderingly ethereal sound.

They open tonight’s set with the album’s opening track ‘Iceland Spar’ which acts as a solid example of their new direction as distorted, reverb-heavy guitars soar and drums crash and it seems clear that the band have been getting out their post-rock records when writing this album. ‘Slow Wave’ follows next which is my personal highlight of the record with its swirling guitar lines and strong yet smouldering bass and drum groove acting a nice contrast to Iceland Spar’s whirlwind wall of sound. A word I’d use to describe tonight’s set would be climatic, as each song has a build, switching from loud to quiet dynamics from the heavy distortion and pounding drums of ‘Marching Song’ to the passionate crescendo of ‘Yellow Wood’. With guitarist Daniel now taking to drums and programming, the band’s live sound has really grown and expanded turning them into a real rock band as guitarist’s Tom and Rachel use their pedal boards to turn their simplistic guitar melodies into forces to be reckoned with, particularly on recent singe ‘Deathwaltz’ which is padding out into noisy yet captivating wig out.

The intense atmosphere the band create and the journey their sounds take you on is spellbinding and exciting to watch.

All in all, a unique and enjoyable gig going experience.

Benjamin Forrester

I joined the Silent Radio family near the very start of my move to Manchester in 2012 and I'm still having the best time! During my stay here I've been in two noisy bands, had a not so noisy solo project, made a zine, started a blog and started a radio show. It's been productive to say the least and it's all been intersperse with a shit load of gig going and beer drinking. I would love it if you followed me on twitter @dr_brainless for excitable tweets about playing, watching and living new music.