Well, these guys have come out of nowhere (after five previous albums, I must add) with a bit of a gem here for anyone who’s into the whole post-hardcore melancholy vibe and vocals powerful enough to cause a higher-level stratospheric event. Impure Wilhelmina – no, I have no idea either – should, in some shape or form, be enough to win over the most ardent metal fan even though the heaviness factor is only just about on the borders of standard metal regulations. What they lack in spiked clubs they more than make up for in their rapier songcraft, progressive wizardry and tumultuous hooks. There’s a mix of gothic doom Katatonia or Swallow the Sun here with the sheer power of stadium-levelling shoegaze rock. But also the song mastery of a band with a knack for drawing you into a tidal wave of musical loops which carries the raw components of the band’s sound over the line and into a different league.
This Geneva-based band has just signed to Season of Mist, relevant for no other reason than this is why the band has perhaps getting a little more recognition among the metal masses, and only odd because it seems to the slightly less heavy than previous outings. But the band has doubled down on the key elements that make this album worth checking out – not least allowing vocalist (and guitarist and founder) Michael Schindl to showcase his talents to the full. Perhaps the track – and not the best track by any means – but the track that illustrates the power and subtlety of Impure Wilhelmina is Meaningless Memories which teases us with a hypnotic prog fest for the first half, demonstrating the art of musical timelessness as the minutes ebb into the ether, before slowly building to a vocal-breaking crescendo, and finally an artful curveball which the band proves on numerous occasions that it has in abundance.
Fave tracks have to include the opener Great Falls Beyond Death, which has a weirdly warming folky vibe that reminded me of 1980s post-punk folk rockers New Model Army, and Race With You, a gigantic, shoegazing anthem. Guitars hover in layers aplenty as Schindl’s vocals and emotion-fraying sounds leave you feeling wrapped up, warm and weather beaten at the same time. There aren’t times when the band only just manages to keep pace with its own expanding grandiosity – the occasional lyrical drop of the ball, for example. But fair play to these guys for aiming big and, for the most part, the cracks, if there are any, really don’t show too much. This is a good album by any standards and possibly even a great album if anything in the post-hardcore meets shoegaze rock spectrum fills you with the desire to don your overcoat and stand on the nearest hilltop thinking about your ex-girlfriend while facing head on into the wind and pissing rain. You know the feeling. If not, then pick up a copy of Radiation and discover it for yourself.
(7.5/10 Reverend Darkstanley)