Christian Mistress

Possession

01. Over and Over
02. Pentagram and Crucifix
03. Conviction
04. The Way Beyond
05. Possession
06. Black to Gold
07. There is Nowhere
08. Haunted Hunted
09. All Abandon

[02/28/12]
[Relapse Records]

There’s nothing like revisiting classic albums that defined metal as it is today. For example, if you were getting into metal and you listened to Black Sabbath‘s eponymous debut, you’d have a real hard time believing it was released in 1970. Metal has definitely come a long way, but sometimes it’s just good to look back. Then you have bands like Christian Mistress, who bring the old style, and make it new again. Christian Mistress is a female-fronted stoner metal band who channel southern rock, classic Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Thin Lizzy to create a very traditional, yet unique taste on the stoner metal genre.

When you first hear Possession, you’ll notice that it’s not just a classic album in modern dress. The production is very organic and raw. Guitars sound very live, drums are very organic (you don’t understand how great it feels for your eardrums to actually hear a natural ride cymbal again), and the vocals are completely raw save for a hint of natural reverb every now and again. It sounds like the band got in one room, put a bunch of mics in there, jammed out the songs in a session, and recorded it. It’s very, very fresh, and I imagine seeing them live would be a super fun experience.

The songwriting is also very good. The band knows when to take it to extreme (i.e ‘Conviction‘ and ‘All Abandon‘), and they also know when to show other sides of their playing (the acoustic guitar into on ‘The Way Beyond‘, which sounds like it could easy be transferred to something like an organ and work just as well). They definitely have more “rock” songs, but they also have more of the doom style on some tracks (i.e.’ Possession‘ and ‘There is Nowhere‘). They keep up the variety well enough to keep the listener engaged.  The final two tracks in particular are probably some of the best material the stoner music genre has come to produced.

Also, as a guitarist myself, I have to mention one thing further: the riffs. My god, the riffs. It’s like they took a trek to Riff Mountain to study under the greatest riffers of our time. The riffs in tracks such as ‘Black to Gold‘ and ‘Haunted Hunted‘ are just awesome, full of power chord, pentatonic, blues scale goodness. The drums also help the riffs, as the drummer very tastefully adds fills and cymbal crashes to accentuate the riffs. It’s a very, very fun listen, and there are definitely quite a few air guitar moments on the album that will have you jamming until the end of the album’s 41 minute runtime.

However, I do have a few reservations on the album. One is the vocals. The vocalist does a great job, and I can’t imagine how difficult it is singing such a style.  However, where it is quite raw, some of the vocal runs are a little pitchy, souring that particular phrase. The moments where these occur, however, are few and far between.  Also, while the songs are varied, there isn’t a lot of variation within a lot of individual songs. A lot of the songs tell the story of, “hey, this is our tempo and our dynamic level, and we’re not going to change it for the duration of the song.” Some more variation and dynamic would have really livened up Possession.

Regardless, this is without question the most enjoyable stoner metal record I’ve heard in quite some time. It’s a very unique take on an old recipe, and it works to great effect. They couldn’t have had a better Relapse Records debut, and with a little more fit and polish, their next record could do big, big things. I can’t wait till then.  Until then, however, I’ll be more than happy driving on the highway with Possession, and so should you.

Christian Mistress’ Possession gets

4/5

– GR

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