Review Summary: Wijlen wij is which?
Coming into Wijlen Wij
, several doubts lingered in my mind. As a relatively obscure funeral doom band with an absolutely ridiculous name, it was highly likely that the album was going to suck. Nevertheless, I felt it my duty to give it at least one listen and not write it off as mediocre garbage from my own presupposed assumptions.
Beginning with the introductory ‘L'anathème’, any notions of ‘mediocre’ were expelled from my mind. Chant like singing and an organ introduces us to Wijlen Wij
, before continuing onto an almost medieval inspired five minute piece of music. ‘L'anathème’, as opposed to the following track, is a moving and dense song, its hopeful, anthemic nature characterized by saturating organ lines and the band’s signature guitar fuzz. In the case of Wijlen Wij, the fuzzy production on the odd occasion culminates in a superb track (‘L'anathème’), but overall it does not do much but leave a thick layer of unneeded grime over the album. Moving on, the title track vanquished what little hope I had for Wijlen Wij
, plodding along for a painstaking eleven minutes, not really reaching any poignant climax or resolution; even so, the aforementioned chanting returns at the end of the song and gives an immediate dose of relief, but not enough to rescue it.
Ultimately, this is the album’s downfall. While having moments which shine out through the mediocrity, such as a well placed organ interlude or cleanly sung vocal section, the album’s overall feel is one of monotony, and meaninglessness. Every track, however, has one little thing about it that kept me interested, and somewhat allowed me to get through the album without much hassle. ‘Falling Stars’ is based around an up tempo black metal ‘chorus’, for want of a better word, which although giving a sense of diversity to the album, feels terribly out of place; a slow moving wall of fuzz overshadowed by a despondent guitar line, before the tempo quickens and the vocalist begins to scream, typifies the song, the band seemingly doing it on purpose to show that slow and boring tempos are not what they’re all about. The next track, ‘Aware of the Void’, is quite literally eleven minutes of fuzz, its only saving grace a momentary lapse of piano towards the end.
The fact that all the good things about the album seem to be a stroke of luck rather than the band’s own intention leaves Wijlen Wij
as rather uninspired. Each song up to this point, other than the introduction, ranges from passably poor to forgettably so (excluding ‘L'anathème’), and the various elements that do shine out from the album’s murk have been done far better by other funeral doom bands. Nevertheless, I still found it difficult to write-off Wijlen Wij
. Ending the album with the monumentally long ‘Bridges’, the band invoke a sense of Skepticism-imitated fluidity, due mostly to the song’s persistent organ use and relative diversity, ranging from an interesting passage that felt almost tribal, to the song’s relentlessly addictive droning fuzz. The track’s attempts to reproduce dejection with its use of growling over soft, mellow sections, very much akin to Worship, come off a little forced but nonetheless add another sense of texture to the song. Being the longest track, ‘Bridges’ gives Wijlen Wij the opportunity to unify all the ‘good’ elements that were touched upon in previous songs into one cohesive twenty minutes of music.
In all honesty, I would have liked to give Wijlen Wij
more praise than I have. An inkling of greatness surrounds the band to the extent that the album almost feels wasted; it could have been so much better but was undoubtedly let down by the band’s conformity to typical funeral doom conventions. The good in the album is really good, but then the complete and utter failures such as ‘Aware of the Void’ really dampen its effect. Wijlen Wij
comes close to separating itself from the genres limitations, but ultimately doesn’t succeed, and in a genre where being like the others simply isn’t enough, there really isn’t much else to say. After having listened to it several times for the purposes of this review, I have no desire whatsoever to listen to it again, leaving all of its minimal ‘good’ as pointless.