Christian Mistress - Possession
Retro Heavy Metal
9 songs (41:25)
Release year: 2012
Christian Mistress, Relapse
Reviewed by Charles
A hubbub surrounds this record, and it seems fair to say that Christian Mistress’s second album, Possession, is set to become one of 2012’s metal “Big Things”. Why? Well, it’s a retro project, for a start, and we all know how much metalheads like rehashes of stuff that happened 30 years ago. But, it’s a retro record that even I like, and as you know, dear reader, normally I only listen to music that is composed using a tone row, played on an electronic dieselharp and produced by John Zorn. For those of you that actually got around to listening to their 2010 full-length debut, Agony & Opium, this is very similar, just with a really pristine, lovely production job which means that the band’s vintage heavy metal riffing is rendered in all of its glory. For those of you for whom this is a new name, then read on!

In short, Possession is a swinging trad metal record, drawing mainly on the NWOBHM bands of the late 70s and early 80s- here you will find the bouncing rock and roll tempos of Diamond Head and the vivid melodic hooks of Angel Witch. There are also some delicious doom influences, of which we will talk more later. The band’s obvious distinguishing feature is Christine Davis’s singing. She reminds me of a non-Welsh Cerys Matthews: an odd comparison, perhaps, but there’s definitely something in the huskiness of her delivery. Anyway, it’s her singing that is Christian Mistress’s calling card, and the melodic hooks that emanate forth in her languid, casual style that define the album in your memory and draw you back into it. Aside from that, we also find expert deployment of the genre’s more traditional hallmarks. Opener Over & Over, for example, is just one of the many tracks here that thrive on the skilful use of bluesy pentatonic runs and harmonised lead guitar lines.

Some of this I find fastforwardable- Pentagram and Crucifix, for example. But the highlights here seem to really emerge in the second half of the record, like the stupendous Black to Gold. The rhythm guitar riffing motors along in about fourth gear, bubbling with energy but never feeling hurried, lead lines flourish exuberantly, and the vocals are anthemic- a future encore. Oddly, the other highlights here, in my view, are the slow, doomier numbers. The title track is irresistible, with neatly sculpted melodies enmeshing with sublime walking-pace riffing to evoke a breezier, cheerier version of the kind of thing you’d expect from highly-rated doom bands like Pallbearer. And Haunted Hunted is an example of a band sculpting something totally its own. Sinister rhythm guitar underpins a melodic line illuminated by unexpected major notes: enigmatic and entertaining songwriting.

So, um, yes… it’s good! Go listen to it. You probably have already so... carry on.

Killing Songs :
Possession, Black to Gold, Haunted Hunted
Charles quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Christian Mistress that we have reviewed:
Christian Mistress - Agony & Opium reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
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