Westenra: Breathe EP

It’s been just over a month since Whitby’s own Gothic Rockers Westenra released their latest offering the “Breathe” EP. Whilst this review then, may not be on the pulse, this EP is. Great music is always worth talking about at any time & trust me, this is great music. And since it’s Bandcamp Friday tomorrow, if you haven’t got your good goth selves a copy yet, then now is the ideal time. Almost like I waited on purpose.

Having now finally caught Westenra live back in July I have to say I have an even deeper appreciation for the musical direction this band is taking & the soundscapes they create. Live, Westenra are electric demonstrating both superb musicianship & an obvious love of their chosen genre. Goth Rock, by Goths for Goths. This is a band that knows where they are headed & that blossoming confidence in their art comes across in every vocal nuance, chord progression, arpeggiated bassline & programmed beat of “Breathe” 

Deeply atmospheric, it’s a 4 track EP of simply beautiful anthemic proportions. Musically dynamic, lyrically poignant & as us ol’ goffs love to hear, it’s also very, very dance-able.

Track one “Embrace the Grey” starts off slowly as the drumbeats kick in followed up by angelic choral synths & almost Arabic wailing vocalisations. As the first verse starts, the bassline, gorgeously prominent in the mix kicks in & bang you’re hooked. An immediate anthem, perfectly structured as it builds into its crescendo. Within a verse you’re singing & bobbing along to the groove like you’ve known it for years. A song with a message too, as are all the tracks on the EP, “Embrace the Grey” comes across as a social statement about acceptance in the face of the many differing opinions in modern society.

Next up “This is My Life” is another immediately anthemic number.  This track again, showing their confidence & song writing skills off “This is My Life is probably my favourite of the four new tracks on this record. Kicking off with some very Goth, Mission-esque guitar sounds that just build into another mighty Gothic anthem with layers of said gorgeously effect laden guitars from Guitarist Carl Graham.  A groove laden, driving staccato bassline from low ender Dominique Rennard & singer Lucy Danby’s powerhouse vocals are the operatic icing on the cake. Lyrically “This is My Life” is another social statement & an indictment of societal pressures & expectations on women. Likely very personal in nature with a specific intention the lyrics can however be expanded to fit many situations in modern life, encouraging the listener to both empathise & relate with the lyrical intent & meaning but yet also fit with issues in their own lives. As Goths & alternative creative types I’m pretty sure we’ve all said or at least thought at some point. “This Is MY Life” I’ll live it how I want! Add all that together, throw in a fantastic hook & you’ve got yourself another dark & anthemic floor-filler.

The titular track, “Breathe” takes a step back to a slower more sedate pace but is no less of a statement anthem for it. If anything, I can see this being the takeaway track from the EP for many.

Standout vocals once again from Lucy Danby; “Breathe” is a perfect showcase for her range & tone, a tone that in this instance feels like it takes the listener by the hand & guides them through the song in a cathartic meditation mantra; breathing in & out of the layers of synths, percussion & guitars in harmony & emulation of the lyrics  Lyrically it’s empathically strong; I’m sure at one point we’ve all said to ourselves “Just Breathe”.  Yet another track that is highly relatable for the listener & will no doubt again resonate with numerous fans. I can see this being a “go to” song for both myself & others after a bad day & in desperate need for an aural tonic to sooth the soul & just “Breathe the pain away”

Starting with an Aboriginal, tribal type vocal chant then sweeping into ethereal synths, followed by the sweetest of chilled grooves as the bassline & guitars kick in, in a perfectly arranged catharsis of sound. Actually, starting think this might be my favourite track on the EP after all.

Last up is “Temptation” & where this EP finishes exactly as strong as it started. Another lyrical & multi-layered musical journey that many, if not all of us will be able to relate to in one way or another & will have fans both live & in their own homes belting it out in harmony or maybe that’s just me.

That then puts “Breathe” 4 for 4 as an EP in my book. Every track is beautifully & intelligently crafted, executed & recorded. This latest collection of 4 new songs from the Whitby 3 piece will speak to all those who have the ears to listen it either lyrically or musically & speaks volumes for where Westenra are headed as band to be reckoned with in the Goth & Alt music scene.

Do your ears a favour, support the band & buy the EP here:https://westenra.bandcamp.com/album/b-r-e-a-t-h-e

Wanna see Westenra Live? You really do!

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