Impure Wilhemina
L'Amour, La Mort, L'enfance Perdue

Fans of atmospheric doom and sludge-core might call this metalcore or screamo, while fans of metalcore and screamo might call this sludge-core or atmospheric doom, but no matter who calls this album what; fans of all four sub-genres will find their most dark and depressive fantasies fulfilled on this third full-length from this under-the-radar Swiss band. Suffice it to say, Impure Wilhelmina are my favorite band right now and the multitude of reasons why manifest themselves all over this spectacular collection of songs. This band and the music they make is the ultimate study in modern post-everything contradictions, as they so clearly borrow from so many sub-genres of heavy music yet are able to translate those influences into something that is just as clearly their own.L’Amore, l’amorte… is thus the perfect soundtrack for the manic-depressive metalhead. Sludgy guitars are heaped on like thick black tar as emotionally turbulent, aggressive passages make way for sophisticated, almost jazzy interludes. “January” announces itself with soul-draining power, exhaustively-heavy sludge-core which only hints at whats to come. “Tense” is all angst-ridden self-deprecation embodied in intertwining harmonies and thundering vocal roars. The Opeth-ian sophistication of “The Black Flame” gives way before the well-aged tantrum of “Bleed Alone”. The album truly comes to life in the next two pieces though, beginning with the very emo “Seeds” which manically evolves into a discordant Botch-esque nightmare. “The Broken Wing of the Dying Bird” is the set-piece here though. The first half of this tune is very thick sludged-out guitar accompanying a lyrical manifesto which exhorts its listeners to take arms against an empty and dissatisfying existence. Half-way through, the band changes up, turning on a dime into one of the most soul-searing and momentous refrains you will ever hear. One thing Impure Wilhelmina will never do is tease you with a riff, almost every musical passage on the album is drawn out to its logical or illogical conclusion. It is a testament to the 4 members collaborative creativity that these parts not only don’t grow boring through seemingly endless repetition, they actually build strength through momentum carrying the listener along willingly or not. Michael and Thierry’s guitars weave in and out of each other alternating rhythmic context and lyrical leads, while Matthias’s busy and expert bass-playing hums, drones and noodles exquisitely behind the mass. It is all topped off by David’s incredible drumming shifting between chaotic and jagged punked out jazz but always coming back for the big hits to keep pushing the song on and on. There is so much to absorb in each song on this album as these four personalities collide and cohere, divert and divide endlessly yet studiously. No matter how much is going on though, they never leave the song behind and while there is a lot in I.W.’s music that can be compared stylisticly to other groups, nothing out there can really compare to the way these styles are blended together for the purpose of the greater whole.

If the first half of the album perfects the formula the band has established on previous releases, the second half of the record fearlessly fucks with it. “Before A Dream” is a slow bass driven, spoken poem drowning in its own perpetual gloom, whereas “Sunburst” is an explosive, driving piece of Weezer-inspired power punk, complete with radiant harmonies and rich texture. “Diaspora” is a blind fury of uncomfortable questions (“Should I kill myself? Should I rape you first?), while “Everything is Pain But You” somehow manages to be emo and muscular at the same time, forcing its tales of loss and loneliness down your throat via a rumbling and thick overdriven chorus. “A Man in the Light” closes the proceedings with a very somber tone, plaintively coming to terms with man’s helplessness in the wake of fear, tragedy and heartbreak.

Bands that play a mix of metal and hardcore and sing about human relationships and the accompanying heartache are a dime a dozen these days, spewing out soulless records filled with cliche clean/hard dynamics by the bucketload. Impure Wilhelmina is the exquisite transcendence of these stereotypes, their songs are remarkably well-concieved, adventurous and lush with raw and genuine emotion. What Opeth brings to progressive death, what Mastodon brings to metallic sludge, is directly analogous to what Impure Wilhelmina bring to emotional metalcore. It does not get better than this.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by John Gnesin
August 9th, 2005

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