Release Date: Feb 28, 2012
Record label: Relapse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Christian Mistress' second formal release -- and first full album, if one counts Agony & Opium as an EP -- finds the Olympia quintet in even stronger form than before, the group's eager embrace of early-'80s metal energy and singing coming together with a bang once again. Starting with the rollicking kick of "Over and Over," Christine Davis again proves to be the unmistakable core of the whole thing, her passionately throaty voice proving to be one of the best from that neck of the Pacific Northwest yet, a worthy descendant of Heart's Wilson sisters at their powerful best, mixed with just that much more kick to stand up to the chugging sprawl and slam of the group. Perfectly titled songs, like "Haunted Hunted" and "Pentagram and Crucifix," capture the kind of surging and stately crunch that the band make to a T, the precision in the solos matched with a brawling punch in riffs and rhythms.
You know your band has some serious credibility when Darkthrone founder Fenriz casts his approving gaze upon your ventures. His insistence that Christian Mistress “play heavy metal the old way, the exact way we enjoy it ourselves,” has been bandied about ceaselessly as a measure of the band’s authenticity since the release of its universally praised debut, Agony & Opium, in 2010. And for good reason too.
At the risk of making assumptions about your burg, it's a safe bet that there's a band in your general zone that sounds something like Olympia's Christian Mistress: Twin guitars peel out ahead of a powerful, almost sexual strut, and guitar-hero tangents come tempered by metal-icon concision. Maybe that crew of neighborhood revivalists has a convincing frontman, too, a would-be Bruce Dickinson or Klaus Meine waiting in the local wings. They've probably got an exquisitely campy name, too, and an allegiant flock that loads into the neighborhood bar for riffs after work on a Friday night.
Christian Mistress have garnered an immense amount of attention for Possession, and every ounce is well-deserved. Critics have attempted to pin genre monikers like "NWOBHM" and "traditional" to Christian Mistress, but the best way to pay homage to the purity of their sound is to call them simply heavy metal. Supple yet muscular, their tone is as lovely and deadly as a skilled swordsman ? perfect balance, grace and a very sharp blade.
Olympia's Christian Mistress admirably uphold the standard of prefix-free metal with this, their Relapse debut. Possession doesn't need to be attached to any antiquated movement or set of placeholders, although the formidable presence of Judas Priest, Accept and Tank are felt throughout. This album is proof that heavy music need not shed its skin year after year and adopt new aliases, philosophies or fashions.