Julie Christmas

The Bad Wife

01. July 31st
02. If You Go AWay
03. Bow
04. The Secrets All Men Keep (Salt Bridge part II)
05. Six Pairs of Feet and One Pair of Legs
06. Headless Hawk
07. A Wigmaker’s Widow
08. I Just Destroyed the World
09. When Everything is Green

[Rising Pulse | 11/09/10]

I’m a bit of a chauvanist when it comes to female vocalists in heavy music. I just keep finding fault: Krysta Cameron of Iwrestledabearonce; Eva Spence of Rolo Tomassi; Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. Even if they can do the job fairly well (I’ll admit it, Scabbia can actually sing), something about the band always lets them down. Most of all, vocalists such as these lack that unique quality that your Mike Pattons, your Daryl Palumbos and your Mikael Åkerfeldts do. This is undoubtedly due to percentages in a male-dominated genre, but it is unfortunately still true.

(Re-)Enter Julie Christmas, tipping the scales considerably for the fairer sex. I’ve been a fan for some time (first finding Battle of Mice, and more recently Made Out of Babies), so with the release of this, her debut solo album, my interest was immediately piqued.

And although this is a solo effort, it is immediate from the outset that Christmas is building on her earlier work. The music itself is most reminiscent of MOoB: measured, brooding and with an ever so slight tinge of doom. The guitar tone should feel comfortable to existing fans too, but I don’t feel this is laziness. Quite the contrary; I think that, consciously or not, she has realised that this is the kind of music her voice suits. No doubt it’s what she enjoys making too, but whether she’s rasping a screech of pure malice across her vocal chords, or singing soft blues about losing love, it’s obvious that no peppy pop tune or R’n’B beat would fit her. She is, in her very musical essence at least, metal.

But like pop music, where the individual is lauded – often rightly so – because of the vocal talent they possess, this album is all about Julie Christmas. The music is all great; don’t misunderstand me for a second – I think ‘schizophrenic’ is perhaps the wrong word, but within the context of Christmas’s past work I hope this makes sense. It shifts from the riff-driven, distinctly angry “Bow” to the soft, lamentable “Secrets All Men Keep” (a sequel of sorts to Battle of Mice’s “Salt Bridge“), ups the pace again with pacey, drum-lead number “Six Pairs Of Feet and One Pair of Legs”, and segues effortlessly into the seethingly malicious “Headless Hawks“, transitions that undoubtedly follow and indeed allow for the versatility of Christmas’s voice.

She really is versatile, too. I can name on one hand the number of vocalists who can switch between such different styles, transform at whim, and take on the personalities of so many distinct (and largely unstable) voices so well. Combine her with a plethora of accomplished musicians in an complimentarily diverse number of musical moods, and you’ve got yourself an essential listen.

Julie Christmas’s The Bad Wife gets

4.5/5

– CG

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