The full-length debut byOlympia,Washington, quintet Christian Mistress is more than a savage, irony-free ’70s metal flashback. It’s an honest and lovingly composed epic that combines the sludge of Black Sabbath, the guitar harmonies of Judas Priest and the amphetamine bursts of MotÃ¶rhead.
Several elements levitate Christian Mistress above their peers. The most blatant is vocalist Christine Davis, who unleashes a barrage of skin-stripped melodies that support even the heaviest songs. Equally important are the band’s immaculate arrangements, which range from thuggish to progressive, recalling cult heroes like Angel Witch and Diamond Head as much as Priest and Sabbath. Also, while the Mistress clearly love great metal, they also covet classic and southern rock (check out the ZZ Top-style lick in the chorus of “Black to Gold” and the gloomy slide guitar on the acoustic intro of “The Way Beyond”). Possession offers NWOBHM and doom fans a dragon’s lair of gems to behold, but to pigeonhole Christian Mistress as sword and sorcery “retro metal” is a crime worthy of a squeeze in the ol’ iron maiden.