King Woman – Created in the Image of Suffering (Relapse)

Thursday, 9th February 2017
Rating: 8.5/10

Feel the drone…but not that kind of “drone.” On King Woman’s quite enticing first proper full-length album Created in the Image of Suffering (their first for Relapse, too), an endless drone of heavy riffs, droning female vocals, and droning aura congeal for an obvious early 2017 breakout. The 2009 creation of vocalist Kristina Esfandiari, King Woman has spent the better part of their career working it out in the Bay Area and on the road, with 2014’s Doubt EP setting the stage for more massive things, like Created in the Image of Suffering.

Esfandiari is the driver here, with her vocal approach creating ample bouts of tension (check out the late-song build-up on “Deny”), and persuasion (“Shame”). She couldn’t be more suited for the distortion-heavy, wall-of-sound emanating from Colin Gallagher’s amplifier. It can be ungodly heavy at times. However, a respite comes by way of “Hierophant,” the album’s obvious high-point. A careful, if not graceful cut with easy post-rock melodies and a sterling chorus, “Hierophant” is undeniably memorable and melancholic, perhaps worth the price of admission for the whole album, although that wouldn’t do the rest of the songs justice.

The album’s accompanying bio draws up the “Black Sabbath-meets-Mazzy Star” comparison, which may be spot-on. (Bands usually dread comparisons, so take that as you may.) However, it’s evidence of the duplicitous and unique nature of King Woman, who boast metallic weight and unbridled female spirit. Created in the Image of Suffering is a titan of an album, showing that in terms of subject matter and sound, King Woman are the real heavy.

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