First thing’s first: I just want to say that I’m really glad bands like Christian Mistress still exist. I’m not going to go on an unnecessary, long-winded diatribe against the kids and their computers and their crabcores; there’s plenty of places you can go for that, and as the youngest dude on staff, I really have no place complaining about anything. What I mean here is, I’m glad there are bands that carry the torch of late 70s/early 80s metal like Christian Mistress. Metal today takes myriad forms, and it’s nice to see that this particular style is alive and well, especially in a record as strong as Possession.
Make no mistake, the Washington five-piece worships hard at the altars of Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden and keep things as traditional as you can get without tuning down and nicking some Sabbath riffs. If you like melodic choruses, twin guitar harmonies (I call them guitarmonies-don’t knock it until you try it) and thudding bass, this album brings it in spades, with an awesome, organic production sealing the old school deal. From the moment those wonderful-sounding drums count in opening track “Over & Over”, you know it’s on. Vocalist Christine Davis wails like a dour Bruce Dickinson, trading in the Maiden frontman’s soaring highs for a more fatalistic approach. When she sings lyrics like “I shine my boots with your blood I spill”, it sounds more medieval than your local renfest.
“Pentagram and Crucifix” has a positively evil intro (which it should, with a name like that), with the guitars splitting up to riff out tandem minor key licks that sound like they’re trying to summon the devil…which makes sense, considering the song’s about summoning the devil. Like any classic metal record from this period (or just trying to emulate it), the guitars take center stage, as they do on “The Way Beyond”, which opens with a dual guitar acoustic tradeoff before the riffs come flying back again. The title track slows things down in a shoutout to Tony Iommi’s sludgy riffs and stereoed guitar solos, and “There is Nowhere” seems to be a ballad in the vein of “Remember Tomorrow” from the first Maiden record.
Probably the best thing I like about this album is that it sounds like it was made by a band. It’s easy to picture these four guys and a girl in a Washington basement rocking these songs out and putting it to tape. Where some metal records can sound like a series of individual parts layered on top of one another, Possession sounds like a blending of musical minds, working in tandem to make you throw up the horns as screaming guitars duel like fencers jockeying for superiority.
If you’ve got a taste for an organic-sounding record and you’ve got a soft spot for the work of Paul Di’Anno and Gary Moore, Christian Mistress’ new record will make you believe in the new old school. While it’s a bit on the short side, the pure rock-out power of this record can’t be denied. Give it a spin and party like it’s 1979.[signoff predefined=”Signoff 1″][/signoff]