Impure Wilhemina
Prayers and Arsons

Listen up, if you enjoyed Burst’s more adventurous, experimental and unpredictable take on the whole Post Rock genre with Lazarus Bird, just go ahead and grab the fourth full length album from this Swiss quartet. Now.

Former Digitalmetal writer John Gnesin had always told me to check these guys out, long before the genre exploded into what it is now, and now I wish I had heeded him, and will definitely go back and check out the bands back catalog (1999s Afraid, 2003s I Can’t Believe I Was Born In July, and 2005s L’Amour, La Mort, L’Enfance Perdue) after hearing this superb album.

With the obvious starting point of Neurosis and Isis in so much the band play an atmospheric form of light/dark Post Rock hues, but like Burst, Impure Wilhemina are able to gravitate away from the expected ebb, flow, build, peak mantra of their peers and inject some clean rock, some metalcore, some angular hardcore and some simply gorgeous harmonies and layers into the mix. The end result, like Lazarus Bird is an album that’s almost unrecognizable as post rock, but instead simply delivers stunning music of its own discourse.

I’ll admit, three minutes into opener “Continental Breed” and its rather standard, almost Helmet meets new Poison the Well styled alternative rock, I wasn’t impressed, However, at the 3:50 mark the band unravel a layered, melodic melancholy riff that just rends you inner being, and I’m hooked. Then “Hide Your Anger, Give Your Mouth” suddenly erupts with a jagged hardcore lurch and screams and the layered melodies found right before the songs shift into acoustic introspection are to die for. “Poisons and Blades” really cements the albums similarity to Lazarus Bird with a jangly melodic intro before exploding into epic riffage, clean and screamed vocals and an emotional rumbling/shimmering climax delivers one of the albums many standouts. “The End Within” delivers the albums first real moments of what I would call atmospheric doom or pure Post Rock shoe-gazery with some truly draining, drawn out harmonies, not to dissimilar to Samothrace’s recent debut. “Travel With the Night”, like the opener, initially comes across as sort of an alternative rock track before the track shifts into somber acoustic bliss. “As We Kneel” is arguably the albums other standout track, getting right to it with piercing screams and just a monstrous, shimmering mid section that made me wilt a little. “Cover Me With Kindness” yet again reeks of Burst mixing a varied vocal attack, epic, churning power chords with delicate threads of introspection and artful, melancholic threads of brilliance. “The Rope” offers a short sharp before the lengthy closer “Drift”.

As well as the sheer depth of the song writing, the band has to be commended for getting to the point as Prayers and Arsons wanders little, coming in at around 50 minutes and most of the songs under the 7 minute mark with a couple in the 3-4 minute range. Aforementioned closer “Drift” is the albums longest cut but also is the albums weakest, being the albums only really wandering track, with a odd discordance to its first three quarters that’s a little grating compared to the grace and elegance of the prior tracks (even though the cuts last couple of minutes are superb).

Still, it’s those prior tracks that make Prayers and Arsons one of the most evocative and magnificently artful albums of the year and of the genre, with only Samothrace and Burst topping it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
December 29th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    man, I have been looking for their last one (L’Amour, L’Perdue, L’Something or Other) for years, no US distro carries it. But they are amazing and I will definitely be tracking this down.


  2. Commented by: gabaghoul

    oh yeah you said the album name right there doh


  3. Commented by: vegard

    wow, had no idea these guys have a new album out, i thought the previous one was their final album. excited to check it out, great review


  4. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Love, Death and Our Lost Childhood. Something like that, Gaba. You’ll have an easier time remembering the title that way. 4 years of studying french are paying some dividends now and when I watch cool horror flicks from la Republique Francaise. :D

    Great band, BTW.


  5. Commented by: bast

    “Everything is Pain But You”, you have to love that song title in a “post-metal” contexte as well as the album title -en francais-.
    Anyways I remember that review, it made me download the 2 free songs the band had at their site.
    I just listened to them after a long time and really enjoyed it..
    Definitly going to check both albums.


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