Dusted Reviews

Christian Mistress - Posession

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Christian Mistress

Album: Posession

Label: Relapse

Review date: Jul. 3, 2012

Christian Mistress’s dream of metal awakes right around the time of This is Spinal Tap, just as the genre lost its British leadership and was eclipsed by Californian glam and thrash. Just before it became self-conscious. Like the New Wave metalheads, they’ve dropped the blues, but hold on to the jitters of rock ‘n’ roll. Their twin guitar attack gallops like Iron Maiden, and as with Motorhead, they aren’t adverse to a shuffle (provided it’s weighed down with a few ammo belts). It’s a good breakpoint for a heavy band to use as its focus, halting before the subsequent divisions between troo bruisers and pop pretty boys.

This is accomplished without any striving for retro purity. They just seem to naturally avoid pushing the tempo and distortion (and the blow-dryer) past a certain point. So while their tones are more denim than black leather, this is very much a metal band. The songs bypass the pop structure of hard rock, typically driving through six or more parts, from acoustic intro to soaring trade-offs to double-time climax. The big shortcoming is that Christian Mistress never quite nail the big vocal hook. Each thud and rippling lead seems like a build up for a Idontwanttoliveforever that never arrives. There are passages where the lyrics feel read from a notebook, jammed into the mix of dueling guitars with no room for any part to stand out. This made the band’s debut EP intriguing but dispensable. They are, however, gathering skills quickly, and most of the greats on this battlefield take a few long-players to reach full power.

And sometimes those eccentricities are what makes Christian Mistress work. It’s already got the necessary charisma, right down to the coy jab of the name. Vocalist Christine Davis’s voice is scratchy and controlled, tough without trying to sound like a tough girl. The way she threads her parts tightly with guitar is what distinguishes Possession from its 30-year-old ancestors. A female singer would have had more to prove then, and a dude would have been trying to out-outlandish David Lee Roth or Halford. In other words, much of this kind of metal would have been well on its way to Hollywood. The latest albums from Orange Goblin and Gentlemen’s Pistols have been working over this same era, also toning down the vocal antics. But with guys in front, there’s still a fair amount of boys-will-be-boys. At her best, Davis sinks into the songs, guiding them without taking them over.

The second half of this record is all killer. “Black to Gold” starts as a badass tussle, but keeps hinting at brightness, opening up to a glowing bridge where Oscar Sparbel and Ryan McClain trade solos. It’s heavy without any doom at all, something rarely accomplished these days. The ballad “There is Nowhere” is a track where notebook musings become an asset, explaining lost faith without resorting to inverted crosses. They move beyond stock imagery, make their point, and leave the stage and let the guitar gush. If most of their songs use the trick of moving from somber to frothy, they find a new commotion each time. Christian Mistress isn’t exactly a party band, but it sure knows how to wear a rowdy frown.

By Ben Donnelly

Read More

View all articles by Ben Donnelly

Find out more about Relapse

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.