Why I choose to review Radiation I can’t exactly recall (perhaps sharing members with Rorcal and Vuyvr did the trick, perhaps it was just the description “post-hardcore” that triggered my interest); whatever it was, the album surprised me, let me tell you that. I was expecting post-hardcore from this Swiss band (as the promo said it would deliver just that) and I’m not really sure that’s what I got, more on that later. I was also surprised to find out this wasn’t a debut or second album. In fact, this is Impure Wihelmina’s sixth album. I have not had the chance yet to listen to previous albums; Radiation had to act as my introduction to Impure Wilhelmina discography. Based on Radiation checking out older albums is not such a bad idea… But now I’m ahead of business. Let’s have look at who we’re dealing with.
The history of Impure Wilhelmina starts little over 20 years ago in Geneva, Switzerland. A bunch of local enthusiast start a band that plays post-hardcore or metallic hardcore (depending on which source you read). From what I gathered in my back ground search the sound of this band has developed over time. A lot! I imagine 20 years of experience and polishing their sound has paid of so to speak. It has taught them to melt genres together seamlessly at least.
The foundation of this record is post-hardcore, sure, the promo didn’t lie to me about that, but it doesn’t stop there. Instead most musical genres that include a guitar have left their traces on Radiation. There’s the doomy parts, the almost black metal parts, sludgy riffs pop up here and there, don’t be surprised to encounter emotional parts, post-rock build-ups etc. It’s all there! And the amazing thing is, it isn’t a jumbled mess you might expect after reading the above description. There’s two things that glue everything to one cohesive whole. First of all it’s the songwriting itself. The side-steps are included so naturally and with so much flow it never sounds like a bunch of ideas randomly put together. The second ingredient are the vocals. Michael Schindl has a smooth and somber voice that at times sounds like The Smiths gone metal. Not a bad comparison if you ask me! He’s far from a one-trick pony though. Gruff shouts are used at times. Blend all this together and you end up with a band that walks a thin line between indie and metal.
Radiation is a long album,all those ideas take up space and are given proper room to breath; with ten tracks it clocks in at 56 minutes. As I’m used to listen to punk and hardcore records that last 30 to 40 minutes max that’s quite a ride. This is an album that doesn’t allow you to get bored though. It captures your attention from the first second of “Great Falls Beyond Death” (one of the prize songs of the album) and doesn’t let you go until the last seconds of “Race With You”. In fact each spin so far has revealed more details and added more depth. Different details demand your attention and you keep hearing things you hadn’t noticed before.
There’s some complaining to do though. I do have an issue with the production. It’s completely brickwalled making this a tiring listening experience. Also I’m a sucker for a good clear sound where all instruments can be heard. Unfortunately the bass is a usual victim lost somewhere in the mix. This is also the case with Radiation, where the bass is not allowed to shine through to often. The drum sound is pretty amazing, but as a whole the album loses something of it’s charm (and has a lower score than it could have had) because of the amazing loudness of it. Personally I think this album (heck, almost all brickwalled albums for that matter) would benefit greatly from a more open production. It would be great if Impure Wilhelmina would opt for a different production on future records. For now, I’ll just give the record another spin, despite of my issues with the production. Why? Because it’s just that good. Give it a try.
8.0 / 10
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