Deep within its vibrant heart Possession the new album from US metalers Christian Mistress has a little siren at work. Once the release has laid its splendid and full charms upon the ear there is an irresistible urge and need to repeatedly throw oneself back into its impressive swirling blends of classic rock, heavy metal, and stoner rock. You can fight it, offer a well meant resistance but Possession always wins out with sounds that light up the ear and riffs that excite the heart.
The new album is the follow-up to the 2010 critically acclaimed debut Agony & Opium from the Olympia, Washington quintet and their debut on Relapse Records. Long awaited the album is a sure bet to elevate the band to greater heights and draw a growing swarm of new souls eager to be touched by their well crafted rock sounds. Inspired by and spiced by flavours past and present the release offers moments and elements first seeded in the likes of Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, and Witchfinder General. They are not another band just copying the sound though or simply playing homage, Christian Mistress use these influences to fire up their own distinct invention and also add in a Blood Ceremony like stoner swagger that is tinged with psychedelic tones and punk rock. The last is less defined but it is there and offers a bite and attitude to stir up and impress.
From the opening track Over and Over the band reveals their cards and skills. Vocalist Christine Davis fills the song with a vocal that breathes energy and attitude and a lot of the punk feel stems from her delivery, as here where her tones recall early Siouxsie Sioux. Alongside her the guitars of Ryan McClain and Oscar Sparbel ignite sparks in the ear with their cutting play and enormous riffs whilst bassist Johnny Wulf is immense as his heavy lines rumble and intimidate. With drummer Reuben Storey equally formidable and impressive the band gives notice of what is ahead though not yet of how good things will get as the opener though agreeably strong is relatively unsurprising.
Pentagram and Crucifix is instantly a different beast to the opener. Big burly rhythms and heavy riffs to match accost the ear whilst a guitar litters the surroundings with acidic sounds which invites one into the throbbing mass. Again Davis delivers her words with a punk spite that is excellent and a great counter to the mesmeric play and a colleague to the eager might that crowds the ear. Christian Mistress never demand attention on any of their tracks instead they let the music give the invitation but their power does feel as if it is standing over one to ensure nothing is missed, the riffs like bouncers to the skilled melodic creations within .
The album is firmly consistent with songs like the striking Conviction, the Sabbath riffed The Way Beyond, and the prog/pixies meld of Haunted Hunted very rewarding. The latter of the three sounds strange on paper but musically that is what hits the ear to great satisfaction. There are songs which go further to leave one breathless and smiling ear to ear like the previously mentioned Pentagram and Crucifix. The title track is the biggest thrill on the album, the moment its riffs slowly crawl through the ear as Davis serenades with seductive grace it captivates the senses. The song unwinds like a pole dancer, tempting and teasing with a blissfully wanton groove and eagerly sensuous guitars. The track never breaks free to run riot remaining a seduction to the end enticing and flirting with the senses whilst Davis offers the steel with more punk styled vocals and harmonies.
Black to Gold and There is Nowhere come close to matching this stunning track, the first with a chunky moody bass that lifts the already enthused riffs, scorching solos, and anthemic flow is a tasty treat whilst the second driven by a heartbeat rhythm from Storey caresses the ear with sparkling guitars and vocals before building into a climactic heavy rock crescendo of bustling riffs and dazzling progressive guitar invention.
Possession is an excellent album, a constant pleasure no matter the amount of times one lets its impressive charms play with the senses. It also still feels like the band has a lot more to come within them, so watch this space and hold onto your hats as there is an exciting and irresistible creative storm brewing ahead and it is called Christian Mistress.