By Andrew Bansal
Olympia, Washington’s traditional metal quintet Christian Mistress will soon release “Possession”, their first album on Relapse Records. The band’s 2010 release “Agony & Opium” was simply fantastic, and songs like “Riding On The Edges”, “Home In The Sun” and “Poison Path” garnered them a reputation as one of the most impressive names in the gamut of bands that form the new wave of traditional heavy metal. Watching the band perform these songs live is one of my favorite memories of 2011. So, I was expecting great things from this follow-up album, and I’m glad to say that it meets these high expectations of mine.
The opening track “Over & Over” continues from where the previous album left off, and while the music exudes the same vibe, it’s quite evident from the outset that the five members of Christian Mistress have made progress with their musicianship. Stronger riffs, heavier rhythm section, and Christine Davis’ amazing vocals fitting in perfectly on top of it all. “Pentagram and Crucifix” takes the album to the next level with a very catchy and memorable twin-guitar melody. Its combination with the vocals, in addition to an early Metallica-like solo makes this a tune of long-lasting impact.
After two laid-back tunes to begin with, “Conviction” picks up the pace and gives the album impetus. Ryan McClain and Oscar Sparbel’s guitar work continues to be a pure delight to listen to. This will undoubtedly turn out to be a great live tune, and should be a certainty in the band’s upcoming shows. “The Way Beyond” has a slow, dark beginning but then builds up into a nice mid-tempo tune. The title track comes next, and this one has a ballad-type feel to it. Christine Davis shows her range and class as vocalist and this tune fully belongs to her.
My favorite track on the album is most definitely “Black To Gold”. It has traditional metal qualities in it, but has a very distinct foot-stomping sort of vibe which is more typical in stoner bands. The first band that comes to mind when I listen to this is Danava. That’s a band I’ve been listening to a lot lately, and their music has similarities with this song. Everything about it is just top-notch awesome, and it came as no surprise to me when I saw that this song was chosen to be released as a free download earlier today. It’s certainly the the most apt representation of Christian Mistress’ current musical standing.
“There Is Nowhere” starts out as a ballad, with Christine Davis again showing her prowess, before evolving into a highly enjoyable tune reminiscent of the music on Iron Maiden’s “Piece of Mind” album. “Haunted Hunted” is yet another terrific tune filled with delightful melodies. This sounds a lot like the tunes on the first album, and should be well appreciated by fans of the band. Just like a couple of the other songs on this album, the final track “All Abandon” is extremely sombre and slow to begin with, and then explodes into life. In fact, its fast section is the fastest piece of music on the whole album. This one’s a pure headbangers’ delight and merely one listen is enough for anyone to be able to appreciate its awesomeness.
Overall, I would say Christian Mistress have definitely expanded and branched out musically on this album, as is proved by most of the tunes on here. “Black To Gold” is a prime example. It’s refreshing to see that they haven’t pigeonholed themselves into a straight-up traditional heavy metal sound. There are certainly a few other elements in there. This is an album that will stand them in good stead with fans of their older material, and will solidify their reputation in the heavy metal world.
“Possession” not only showcases Christian Mistress’ rapid musical development, but also presents music that I instantly find comfort in, music that makes me reminisce some of my favorite bands. This is by far the best album I’ve heard in a long time, and if I could give it a rating higher than 10 out of 10, I really would. A fabulous effort.
US Release Date: February 28th 2012
Label: Relapse Records
1. Over & Over
2. Pentagram and Crucifix
4. The Way Beyond
6. Black to Gold
7. There is Nowhere
8. Haunted Hunted
9. All Abandon