Impure Wilhemina
Black Honey

Switzerland’s Impure Wilhemina have been dark since 2008s excellent  Prayers and Arsons, where the band delivered a gorgeous take on elegant post rock a la Burst and The Ocean. However, the band has undergone a large line up shift, resulting in a bit of a style change since that release, and tempered their sound a bit, though it is still incredibly alluring.

Black Honey is a perfect name for this release, as boy is it smooooooth. It’s more alt rock than ‘metal’ especially with lone remaining member, guitarist/vocalist Michael Schindl using clean vocals exclusively, but the black part of the moniker is a depressive, moody undercurrent that recalls the The Smiths, Depeche Mode and The Cure, something Schindl’s vocals further cement with every croon.

Don’t get me wrong, the more discerning metal head will still like this, especially those that enjoy The Ocean‘s recent out put as well as the likes of Day Without Dawn, At the Sounddawn etc, just don’t expect any monolithic crumbling moments of heft. Black Honey is all about the slow seep of riffs and evocative vocals. Sure, this sound might steam long time fans, especially those craving more direct Isis/Neurosis-isms like the band’s earlier work, but in the large scheme of things, the albums stands alone and forges despondently silky new sound.

Still, the band can be furtively metal when they choose, either a more angular, but softer, more svelte Mastodon-ish lurch (“Grand Gendarme”, Mute”) or something different-  just listen to  “Submersible Words or “Uncomfortable Life”, yup- those are tremolo  picked, black metal blast beat right there. But for the most part the album jangles, shimmers and soothes with a patient, somber post rock elegance that’s wonderfully layered and engaging., as heard on the likes of “Chest”,  Church-y “For the Man That I Love”, introspective “Black Horse” and personal favorites “Joseph” and “Courageous”, which seem to be the tracks that structurally most closely resemble Prayers and Arsons. That all being said 11 minute closer “God Rules His Empire” is the lone track on the album which is more of a throwback, with even a single roar  and slower, monolithic riffage. It’s a bit out of place  amid the album’s albums newer glimmer, but a nice ode to a past sound.

The slightly nasaly, mopey vocals will be the sticking point for most, beyond the softer hues the band now delivers, but they fit in as a whole with the pacing and mood of the music and complete Black Honey, making it a perfect album to relax to and take a break from death metal. Let’s just hope a label picks this up for a international/US release and expose their elegant throngs to the unwashed masses.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 12th, 2014


  1. Commented by: bast

    Courageous is one of the best songs of the year.

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