Christian Mistress – Possession (Relapse Records)

Sunday, 24th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Do you know what’s annoying? People making a fuss out of rocker chicks. As in, everytime a female comes by wearing a Motorhead shirt with tattoos smelling like cheap whisky is this holy grail for dudes who are into metal. And if they can sing? Well, look out! Perhaps this is standard operating procedure when someone tries to enter the Boys Club that is metal, but frankly, a lot of these chicks aren’t worth going nuts over. Plus, most metal dudes don’t even know how to talk to the ladies to begin with, so we digress.

(For the record, this scribe’s significant other is into metal, but she doesn’t have tattoos and is only in this relationship as means of inheriting my 80’s thrash sleeveless shirt collection. Lucky for her, she was willingly given said shirts, but has since moved onto regular poaching of my wallet. Hi sweetie!)

To the matter at hand, Olympia, Washington’s Christian Mistress are fronted by Christine Davis, a frontwoman with seemingly an endless amount of attitude and sass. It’s not your attention-grabbing kind of approach though, for Davis fits comfortably within the band’s NWOBH confines rather comfortably onPossession, their second full-length. She’s more of a role player than the focal point, something that’s evident on the energetic opener “Over and Over,” and punchy “Black Into Gold.” In a sea of substance-less vocal sirens, Davis is like the long-lost daughter of Heart’s Ann Wilson.

The band’s grinding and brow-beaten take on classic metal is emboldened by their song stewardship. The album’s nine songs flow together as well as anything heard this year, starting at the top with “Pentagram and Crucifix,” to the restrained bows of “The Way Beyond,” up through the ominous ballad “There Is Nowhere,” which is perhaps Davis’ best moment on record. There’s this reliance on riffs over gloss that gives Possession an immediate sort of familiarity, without sounding too familiar, if that makes sense. It probably does – the album is easy to lap up.

Sure to get more looks just because Davis is out front, Christian Mistress are awfully balanced, and it’s what makes Possession work so well. It also helps the band’s understated ethos and word-of-mouth success has enabled them to get this far. For a band that has all the right ingredients, there’s no telling how far they can go. So perhaps this “chick singer thing” will work out after all…

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