Impure Wilhelmina - Antidote

27 Jun 2021 - Thorsten

Season Of Mist | Release date: 21 May 2021

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After more than 25 years, six full-lengths and several shorter releases, Impure Wilhelmina from Geneva, Switzerland still have something to say and are still relevant – not as front-runners of a new musical style (like back then) but as one of the bands that stick to their musical ideas without any pretentiousness.

Of course, with album No.7 being called Antidote one should not expect a re-definition of what noisy Post-Metal can be – that is not happening on this record. However, one can witness a band skillfully restructuring their arsenal of musical forces to be reckoned with. Their blend of Post-Metal and Noise-Rock mixed with some nearly-Goth-like clean vocals is still something that is quite unique and very distinguishable, showing their roots in 90s metal, when screaming and growling was not the norm for Post-Metal bands but one part of the vocal performance. But maybe that also is only the case because of Michael Schindl’s remarkable voice; he constantly delivers some of the finest melodies of the genre, and so on Antidote too.

To clarify what is meant with the terms Noise and Post-Metal, one should listen to the opener ”Solitude”: A very “loud” beginning with precise drumming, always on point and some good guitar hooks, and then a middle-part with some asynchronous contrast between drumming and riffing with strings and drums being near-perfect clean but still having that crisp edge that also characterizes some 80s and 90s Noise-bands. Afterwards the track rolls to a perfectly timed ending. The beginning of the record is quite often noisy like this, not Noise in the Merzbow- but rather in the Jesus Lizard-sense. The same structure and idea goes for the second track ”Midlife Hollow” but this time, the drums are more driving and pacing that chopped off as in the first track. In all of these moments, the vocals really are the difference that sets the band apart, because the combination of Noise and some Post-Hardcore-based Metal is not too unheard off, even if one must admit that back in the day, when Impure Wilhelmina started, nobody was talking about “Post-Hardcore”.

No review of this record can be seen as completely if it is not talking about the last three songs, which make for nearly 17 of the 52 minutes running time. Here we have a really perfect Post-Metal-track with ”Unpredicted Sky” with perfectly timed growls and a song-structuring playing masterfully with the loud vs. quiet-dynamics. When the song nearly goes silent in the middle and only the cymbals and some very quiet guitar melody remain and then slowly ascends again, it becomes obvious that this band really has a lot of experience and knows that some songs simply need time. The swirling guitars, that then turn into the noisy ending, are provided by Michael Schindl and Diogo Almeida, who are also the only ones heard on the instrumental interlude which is the title track. This in itself – the title track being instrumental and very short – is an interesting notion and given the fact that the song is somehow happy, that might mean something. Maybe humans should try to face the future with a bit more optimism? Then the last track ”Everything Is Vain” is an ideal example of how to construct a good Post-Metal song: Slightly distorted, slightly echoing guitar harmonies are supported by some slow and doomy drumming. The lyrics are very pessimistic (and thus counteract the optimism of the title-track-interlude) and thus make for a more than sad atmosphere: ”When I find myself among peers / I hold out hands that no one takes / All of this leaves me exhausted / In a swamp of confusion / Burning in darkness, burning in pain”.

It becomes obvious that the band has a lot of experience and still delivers some awesome songs – the last three might be the best closing triplets in all of Post-Metal this year! Impure Wilhelmina was never really gone, but when listening to the record one surely notices, why they were missed!