Winter Severity Index - Human Taxonomy (2016)

Human Taxonomy

Tracklist

  1. Paraphilia
  2. Athlete
  3. A Quiet Life
  4. Waiting Room
  5. Backstroke
  6. Drums of Affliction
  7. 5 Am

Ever heard of the genre Cold Wave? Neither did I, but italian band Winter Severity Index is marketed as being a Cold Wave band nonetheless. Well, I did a little bit of research and while I was convinced that this must be a new thing it turns out Cold Wave was used by some music journalist back in the 70s to describe the sound of Siouxsie and the Banshees. The only other band mentioned that got labeled with the very same genre tag was Kraftwerk.

So much for descriptive genres.

Anyway, Winter Severity Index is a relatively young band from Italy and they play their own breach of Dark Wave (Look, a widely used genre everyone can associate with). They released an EP and a full length album before returning with Human Taxonomy.

Dark Wave, like most dark genres is mostly a mood thing and it turns out hitting the sweet spot the between accessibility and melancholia isn't an easy thing to do. Many bands tried and most of them failed resulting in cheesy or overly stereotyped soundscapes and lyrics, which made the experience not a dark but rather a laughable one.

Winter Severity Index manage to hit the sweet spot. The mood is set with intro track Paraphillia and its disturbing layers of sounds that prove to be the perfect introduction to this ride. The overall noisefloor remains the same on the whole album, but is beefed up with (computer) drums and vocals that add just the right amount of melody to the tracks, but all in all stay in a distance, both melodically and physically too by the use of heavy reverb. An effect that can easily be overused but it works for this album.

Keyboards and Bass are key elements to the Winter Severity Index cosmos. The bass is very prominent and goes far beyond its typical role as a link between guitars and drums. This is how I like my bass, mastered to the front of the mix and with complex lines that actually stand out from the rest of the instruments. While not an uncommon feature of Dark Wave music the band delivers this part exceptionally well.

As for the lyrics, they don't seem overly crypted or cliched to me, but who am I to judge?

Anyway, if the darkest moments of The Cure or the more synth heavy tunes of Siouxsie and the Banshees produce a smile on your face, chances are good you will enjoy this one too. Stupid genre label or not.

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