They Say :- Olympia, Washington’s heavy metal voyagers CHRISTIAN MISTRESS delivers unto us their long-awaited Relapse debut Possession. The follow-up to 2010’s critically-acclaimed Agony & Opium, Possession mines deep from the same vein and sees the band standing on the shoulders of metal luminaries of the past. The quintet, lead by powerhouse vocalist Christine Davis and the twin-axe attack of Ryan McClain and Oscar Sparbel, distill traditional heavy metal into the sound of now.
We Say :- Traditional Heavy Metal is certainly the name of the game when it comes to Christian Mistress. The band’s second album (first for Relapse Records) was recorded completely analogue on two-inch tape. There is no sign of pro-tools, no reworked drums on the laptop and no auto-tune to polish things up. Not that auto-tune would ever be required of course.
The music offered up on ‘Possession’ could easily be mistaken for being released at the same time as some of the NWOBHM greats such as the early Iron Maiden or Saxon albums. There are some hints of other influences creeping through the dusty NWOBHM curtain though. The twin guitar force of Ryan McClain and Oscar Sparbel may well be a decent Murray/Smith style combo, but there’s also some early Metallica style solos flying around and there’s some Doom ridden riffs scattered across ‘Possession’ taking things away from the obvious influences.
The analogue recording and lack of fancy production gives the record a familiar raw and unpolished sound. This is further complimented by the raspy vocals of front woman Christine Davies. A real powerful rock voice that works very well against this backdrop of raw heavy metal. She doesn’t over sing like she’s at the opera and on the other side of the coin there’s no bubble gum pop in sight either. It’s quite simply a really good tough rock voice that suits the songs down to the ground.
The nine tracks on offer on ‘Possession’ all follow a similar theme and style with perhaps the exception of the final track. ‘All Abandon’ which has a big acoustic build-up into a frenzy of fast riffing and thundering drums and almost sounds like it should be the opening track. The actual opener is a cracker too though. The short two-minute blast that is ‘Over & Over’ introduces the album like a bite size free sample of whats to come. It’s hard to pick highlights but ‘Conviction’ has an early Maiden guitar sound to die for where as ‘Haunted Hunted’ displays what Christian Mistress can do without comparisons to others who have gone before.
The nostalgia trip is what makes this album work. You can sit through all the tracks on here and pick out familiar sounds from various bands. The twin guitars, the raw bounce of the rhythm section and that unpolished production make this a warm and familiar album. You can’t get away from the fact that it’s mainly a tribute to what has happened many years before. It is executed well however and wrapped up in a new package of a female fronted outfit, it is well worth a listen.