Christian Mistress

Possession

Written by: EW on 07/05/2012 15:55:00

Though written by yours truly this review is brought to you courtesy of Fenriz from Darkthrone, without whose recommendations I may not yet have discovered the sensation that is Christian Mistress and for which my life would be a considerably poorer one. The great man himself said "they play heavy metal the old way" and I might finish off his sentence by adding "and the best way", as these Washington residents rock with a vibe historically reserved for classic acts like Thin Lizzy and more recent additions to the pantheon of heavy rock (to use a term CM would no doubt have been labelled with in the mid-70s) such as Hour of 13 and another female-fronted act, Jex Thoth. "Possession" is their second album and it has dominated my stereo and headphones recently like no other album for some time.

Taking the revivalist cue for bands of late to shun the modern, sanitised and copycat productions of most modern acts in favour of a gritty, sweaty, beer-soaked approach is only half the reason why "Possession" rocks harder than a donkey on steroids; the other half is the sheer quality of the songs from start to finish. The dual lead guitars of Oscar Sparbel and Ryan McClain frequently interplay to stunning effect, emphasised by the clear and uncluttered production, while the vocals of Christine Davis are those of a woman on a mission - her variations within the structure of "Possession", "Black to Gold" and most others recalls vintage, classic rock acts whose mouthpieces were a vehicle for controlling the direction of the instruments behind rather than merely a pleasant adornment on top. In "Pentagram and Crucifix" where the tempo is faster and more direct the band are in perfect sync, bridging fluidly from verse to chorus and back not allowing for a moment your head to stop it's involuntary banging, the whole band play with such evident passion that simply can only be gathered from an organic production like this.

"The Way Beyond", "All Abandon" and "There Is Nowhere" reveal quaint folk influences, before in the case of "There Is Nowhere" the tempo of the song's first half is broken by a bout of dual leads you'll have your air guitar tuned up and ready for action. In album closer "All Abandon" CM show the kind of ability in building a song slowly to a crescendo of balls-out rock'n'roll energy that separates the best from also-rans in this world and why the art of good songwriting is missing from the majority of technologically dependent acts these days.

At this point in time I'm finding it hard to pick out many negatives from "Possession". Yes, some tracks stand out more than others but so solid are all nine you will want to restart the album as soon as it finishes. In 2010 it was Enforcer, last year it was In Solitude and in 2012 it is Christian Mistress, proving that however unpopular and outdated it may appear to most, you cannot keep good heavy metal down. Make sure to keep an eye and an ear out for these guys and gal.

9

Even better than all this, the full album is available for streaming below or at their Bandcamp page.

Download: Possession, Black to Gold, Pentagram and Crucifix
For The Fans Of: Hour of 13, Jex Thoth, In Solitude

Release date: 28.02.2012
Relapse Records

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