The Window Purpose (Re-Release)
posted on 3/2005 By:
I jumped at the opportunity to review the re-release of Wolverine’s The Window Purpose, since I have heard plenty of good things about these guys, but have never taken the opportunity to check them out. It seems their reputation is well deserved. The Swedes originally formed as a death metal band, but after a few demos began to branch out into progressive metal on their Fervent Dream EP. Since that time Wolverine has continued to push further in that direction, on this album and even more so on their most recent effort, the arty Cold Light of Monday. Even if you are a bit standoffish with prog, it is difficult not to recognize The Window Purpose as an album of substantial quality.
The re-release of the album is remastered and includes a rerecorded version of “Again?”, originally on Fervent Dream. According to the band, the original album suffered from poor mastering, and they feel that this new product is a much better representation of their vision. Additionally, the expanded distribution of Earache/Elitist will provide the album with more exposure than the smaller DVS Records. Surely The Window Purpose is old news to loyal prog fans, but this re-release should help the band make some headway with the rest of us, and will appeal to fans of Fates Warning, Dream Theater, and Pain of Salvation.
Wolverine saddle up the tried and true warhorse of progressive music, the concept album. The Window Purpose is the best kind of concept album—the kind that a casual listener may not even be aware is in fact a concept piece, as it doesn’t beat you over the head with intrusive storytelling. The somber storyline does, however, permeate the mood of the music, and provides a nice dichotomy between the cerebral technicality of the music and the emotionally rich mood of the vocals and overall tone of the album. The Window Purpose begins with “End”, which is a brief intro consisting of a graveside prayer delivered at the burial of the protagonist. “My Room” introduces the concept of the album, as we learn that the character’s spirit has entered a room containing pictures from moments in his life. He must learn from these pictures the knowledge necessary to be released into the afterlife. Like the majority of the songs, this one is quite long, spanning eight minutes of dizzying series of tempo and time signature shifts. Serving both as a strength and a deficit, Wolverine don’t bother with a great deal of flashy wankery, preferring to remain technical but functional, and include some more traditional elements within the structure of their progressive style. The aforementioned downside is that a couple sections of the music sound a bit trite. This is most clearly evidenced in the intro of what is otherwise a prog lover’s dream, the two-part, nearly ten minute “His Cold Touch”, which starts off sounding like something you would hear in a contemporary church service. Thankfully, the song kicks into gear, growing and spreading into a multi-textured emotional epic that tells the tale of the childhood sexual abuse the protagonist suffered at the hand of his father, and his subsequent self loathing, despair, and emotional isolation. This tragic shadow follows the storyteller throughout his life, as described on the album, preventing him from finding happiness with his lover, and eventually driving him to take his life. “Leaving Yesterday” is a lush duet with Jamina Jansson, a Rush tinged tale of a love struck couple hoping to build a better life. “Towards Loss” is a heavier moment and standout track, driven by a wall of riffs and moody organ work. As in other songs, vocalist Stefan Zell’s clean vocals are occasionally alternated with drummer Marcus Losbjer’s death growls. The following track, “The Storm Inside”, which covers the character’s eventual breakdown and decision to take his life, also has some heavier sections, building from quiet introspection to furious, roiling intensity. The protagonist eventually comes to terms with his life experiences and is allowed to pass into the afterlife, where he vows to wait for his lover. The bonus track, a re-recorded track from Fervent Dream, provides a fitting coda, as it describes a new beginning with a love lost. But its inclusion is pleasing for more than the happy ending it now gives The Window Purpose. It’s a powerful ten minute opus, that alternates between quiet acoustics and thunderous Opeth-like melodic death metal. The Window Purpose is a technical and emotionally rich album that will please your mind as well as your metal sensibilities. If you missed it the first time around, learn from the experience of the story's protagonist--learn from your mistakes and don't make the same one twice.
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