Album Review: High Priestess – Self-Titled

High Priestess is a psychedelic power trio based out of Los Angeles, their self-titled debut seeing its release on Ripple Music. The all-female trio of High Priestess consists of Katie Gilchrest on guitar/vocals, Mariana Fiel on bass/vocals, and Megan Mullins on drums. The self-titled titled debut contains six tracks, the longest one clocking in at 10 minutes. Each track takes you through an intensely personal psychedelic trip by way of softly-tempo’d, completely immersive journeys through the ethereal musical landscapes presented by High Priestess.

To call them a heavy psychedelic band is falling short of what this band truly is; the carefully crafted atmosphere, the haunting yet soothing dynamic, and the overall musical content elevate this band from being a “psych trio” to something more. The true identity of High Priestess is nothing short of a spiritual elevation of one’s soul into another planetary existence.

If “shaman metal/rock” was a genre, High Priestess would be the poster child. Psychedelic music tends to follow the emotional experience derived from ingested psychedelia, whether in drug form or imitated through various artistic means. That typically means music that follows the “kaleidoscope” trip where everything is wild and anxiously invigorating or it’s in the vein of the “thousand-yard-stare” trip where you gaze into the palpable visualizations of your mind.

High Priestess, in all their musical genius, takes you on the often overlooked psych-out; the spiritual journey that envelopes you in the mysterious vibrations of the natural world. This all-female trio chant their otherworldly invocations towards the stars as they summon into reality the ethereal natures of all that is.

It’s a very dark, yet warm and inviting presence, as if you’ve left your body and feel your spirit immersed in the true flows of existence. As the flows of existence are many, so too is the wide scope of the journey gently offered. It’s a realistic surrealism, if that makes sense. Then again the idea of the living consciousness existing in a separate reality from the body, a reality which exists beyond our touch yet in within our grasp doesn’t make sense to many.

The opening track ‘Firefly’ gently beckons you towards the experience ahead, the immersion hitting instantly with the force of a concrete truck. It’s a gentle force spoken in whispers, yet overwhelming and powerful. The ten-minute opener settles you into your new being; the best way to describe what the music of High Priestess does is to visualize yourself sitting meditatively within a circle of lightly burning incense, the darkened surroundings leaving only yourself and the trio of cloaked shamans chanting their whispers directly into the universe as your soul begins to elevate from your body.

It’s not as easygoing as you might envision from the get-go. The second track ‘Despise’ quickly takes the journey into the darker auras that were seemingly hanging over your head the entire first track. Then the second track comes around and that hanging gloom begins to set deeper, the seemingly soft atmospheric nature set in by the Spanish guitar-tinged intro creeping towards the darker, deeper waters that lie in wait.

‘Mother Forgive Me’ is the darkest track on the album and one of the most immersive, the dynamics of the song molding an incredibly haunting and unforgettable tune. The song is a lullaby sung by the sirens hiding just under the black of the underwater deep, luring you towards the darkness and your own demise. You can feel the gentle malevolency beckoning you throughout and it’s very unsettling, in a really cool way.

It seems like there’s always a darkness hiding around the corner with High Priestess, though it never comes it sits at the edge eternally haunting. High Priestess plays every note of their unique take on psychedelic “metal/rock” to perfection; as it is with spiritual journeys the overwhelming invitation into the gentle warmth of natural existence is surrounded by the malevolency existing at the other end of the spectrum. That darkness is always sitting, waiting and watching, wanting to lure you into itself and you can really feel that with the softly ominous nature of High Priestess’ music.

At the end is ‘Earth Dive’, the absolute perfect moniker as the song delivers you to your earthly existence once more, slowly lowering you back into your body as it cradles you in the dynamic warmth of its arms.

Like a true spiritual experience, High Priestess is near indescribable to the uninitiated. The more I try to explain the nature of High Priestess’ music the more mad it begins to sound. At this point I can only urge you to initiate yourself into this incredibly fresh, soul-striking album and join the madness.

It’s not easy to do, but High Priestess crafted perfection with their self-titled debut, and it is never easy to say an artist has created perfection, yet High Priestess has made it easy to do so. You don’t have to be a baseball player to hit a grand slam.

– by Ryan Falla

Rating: 10/10

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Record Label: Ripple Music
Release Date: May 18 2018

Track Listing:
1. Firefly (10:12)
2. Despise (8:04)
3. Banshee (4:08)
4. Take the Blame (6:36)
5. Mother Forgive Me (5:04)
6. Earth Dive (6:40)

Total Duration: 40:44

High Priestess links: website | facebook | twitter | instagram