Sometimes I get so excited about an album that prior to the release date I build it up in my head to heights that often, upon my first actual listen, I'm slightly disappointed. Then there are times when an album not only achieves what I was hoping for but blows my expectations right out of the water. Today the band that blew my mind is Christian Mistress.
As I've mentioned before in this space the latest and greatest trend in the world of metal is this retro-occult rock/NWOBHM bandwagon that many bands are hopping on. Some are doing it well and others are missing their target completely upon hopping. Then there are those that are not only doing it well but are making music that honestly could stand up against what my metal brethren were listing to for the first time 30 years ago. Olympia, Washington's Christian Mistress is one of these bands doing things the right way and their Relapse Records debut album Possession is hands down one of the best metal releases you are going to hear all year. I'm pretty convinced of that.
I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that as I type this I'm listening to this album for the third time today. There's not a weak song anywhere on this album. When I first heard this band a couple years ago I was pleasantly surprised. But their previous efforts didn't take hold of me the way this album has. The killer twin guitar harmonies, pummeling rhythm section and the striking female vocals all combine to give this band a sort of genuine aural mysticism that's hard to come by these days. It's equal parts Hammer horror and pagan ritual.
There are points where the Iron Maiden worship is apparent (hence those aforementioned twin guitar harmonies) and bands such as Judas Priest, Angel Witch, Saxon, Sir Lord Baltimore, Coven and Black Sabbath all clearly have a place on their collective turntables. But the beauty of this band and what probably sets them apart from their modern day contemporaries is that they aren't just trying to recreate what these forefathers of metal accomplished. They are clearly trying to modernize the sound as well as pay homage to it. It's refreshing and it works. I expect big things from this band in the future and when they finally play a show close enough for me to attend I'll be the guy up front fist-pumping and headbanging.