THE DEMO CORNER
One of these days I will have to remind myself to ask Jinx Dawson of Coven if her 20-year old self ever saw this burgeoning resurgence of 70’s ‘dark art prog rock’ becoming so huge. Even though she has been disgustingly overlooked for many of her accomplishments and contributions to the darker music we so enjoy, I would think (and hope) she finds this run of female-fronted hard rock illuminating and even flattering.
Washington’s Christian Mistress is on its second full-length titled Possession and the ground beneath is shaking and bubbling with rank anticipation. This is one of the better bands of the genre, hands down. I usually don’t fall all over myself reviewing a band; it’s not professional and shows favoritism I don’t necessarily employ, but when something is just so incredible you want to shout it from the highest points you run with it like a chubby, giddy school girl a battered Valentine.
Possession is a natural extension of the band’s debut, Agony & Opium, yet the basic formula is still the same: straight-ahead rock music with darker themes that takes Black Sabbath’s Mob Rules era and meshes it with some classic Iron Maiden guitar tones, though expecting typical Maiden-like music is misleading. What Christian Mistress produces, with brilliant fervor and style, is a long-thought-dead mode of transportation that the 1970’s cast aside in favor of Seals & Croft or Jackson Browne, and while I truly love the latter and tolerate the former the decade had some serious faults in regards to its natural selective process (a discourteous malady still implemented today, only to a much worse degree). This hard rock/heavy metal fueled by monster riffs and ugly drum patterns casts the shadowy ruse perfectly as the gorgeous, yet powerful vocals of Christine Davis remind me of the aforementioned Ms. Dawson with frightening accuracy. If you can possibly imagine such a perfectly melding of Sabbath-like riffs, Coven-esque vocals and sharper-than-razors production you’ll worship at the temple of Christian Mistress.
“The Way Beyond”, as one example, is the type of hard-driving riff that certainly defined the mid-70’s horribly titled ‘classic rock’ sound that does little more than denigrate and stultify many a strong band with horrid visuals of REO Speedwagon or Styx. This album, as a whole, is a wonderful lesson in contemporary antiquity. I love Ms. Davis’ vocals as they don’t try to overtake the tracks, finding comfort and serenity in the cradle of the music itself. It’s also quite sexy as a male of 40 to hear a woman, physically lovely as she is, crooning with stark sincerity about the merits of evil and darkness; it’s a fetish of mine I suppose, but one I find oh-so consuming. By no means do I intend to relegate Ms. Davis to some sexual ornament; of high complimentary order I find her musical presence both emotionally filling and mentally challenging. Among her simplistic contemporaries she definitely holds the most weight with some of the more defining vocals of this jump-started medium.
Musically there seems to be a tight and causal perfection to the tracks, each one procuring a doomy, yet pregnant subtlety that is truly magnificent. “All Abandon” has one of the most beautiful intros, only to shatter your lulled sense of security with a runaway beast of a riff. Aside from the obvious comparisons to a million traditional doom bands that seem really pointless here, Christian Mistress, in the most basic terms, can fulfill your every desire and fantastical expectation in nine heavy tracks. This is metal music not for the outlander or fringe fan base haunting neighborhood bars and Hot Topic stores; when the real underground contingent hears the obvious Iron Maiden influence in tracks like “Haunted Hunted” there will be no need for the trivialities of random comparisons within D-chord structures. Possession pulls out all the stops and gives you the heaviest metal music you can handle in the most ancient form, bells and whistles be damned, so that you too might find the true beauty of the music in the ever-shifting tones of musical perfection.
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1. Over & Over
2. Pentagram and Crucifix
4. The Way Beyond
5. Possession (Faith cover)
6. Black to Gold
7. There Is Nowhere
8. Haunted Hunted
9. All Abandon
Total playing time: 41:25
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Label: Relapse Records
Christian Mistress - Possession
April 16, 2012