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Over the last two decades the world of metal has become more extreme and technical, to the point where it's no longer enjoyable. That is until the last couple of years when a range of bands from rural US states like Washington and Oregon alongside retro rockers from Finland, Sweden, Holland and now the UK have turned back the clock. This new type of band is deeply into Witchcraft and borrows from doom, garage, prog rock and hard rock to form, there's also a place for women with at least 10 of the bands on the scene being fronted by a female. Christian Mistress is an awesome name but does their second album 'Possession' live up to the standards you might expect from such a well-named band? The album bursts into action with some fast guitar riffs that will set a precedent for the rest of the album. Vocalist Christine Davis has a husky voice which is both gentle and at the same time energetic. Pentagram and Crucifix as you might expect by the name, seem a tad heavier than the opener Over and Over, both tracks have a nice underlying bass line but the one on the second track is just that little more sinister. There's a monster of a guitar solo towards the end of the track. Conviction has some nice NWOBHM (new wave of british heavy metal) style licks but the track lacks something to tie it together, it all becomes a bit dreamy at one point and well.. lacks conviction. When the band are in full force it's great but it seems that they have these periods of calm where the only thing to lead the song is the drumming, which is a little on the dire side. The Way Beyond feels much more complete in comparison, the bass line sounds like it's straight from hell and the guitar playing is fast and thrashy, meanwhile Christine Davis, the voice of doom and gloom gently sings in her dark folky witchlike way. This track really is a cracker. Possession is a little more catchier than the other numbers but I can't say I really feel 'possessed' after listening to it, the chorus that goes 'ah ah ah ah' is all very nice but the track is a bit light-weight, the musicianship is good but the band is not as tight as I'd like them to be. Black to Gold is one of the more high-paced tracks, lots of enjoyable guitar playing, riffs overlapping each other and Christine Davis's voice is at its best here, it sounds like Sheryl Crow has been swallowed up by a cauldron and returned to sing this track. The best track on the album for me. There is Nowhere, a gentle ballad type track, Davis's vocals are strong again, coming through in a folky sort of Corrs style, the lyrics are audible, well-written and really enjoyable. Haunted Haunted, so good they named it twice, starts off with a classic riff and is generally really catchy, at least for the first 4 minutes and then it starts to dwindle, I can't help think that if they'd made it a little more compact and lost the last two minutes, it would have been a hit. All Abandon begins as a gentle, sombre affair and sounds a bit like a Metallica ballad, then all hell breaks loose as the listener is greeted with a cacophony of early 80s heavy metal riffs, there are a lot of positives but it's the super guitar solos that do it for me. The drumming is a bit on the basic side and the album was produced extremely cheaply but it suits it, my one major flaw would be that I don't really find any of the lyrics particularly memorable and as much as I like the singer's voice, I don't find her deliverance of the lyrics as memorable as say: Sasha Scream of Arkona, Ann Wilson of Heart or Jessica of Jex Thoth. It's not the best album to be released in this growing scene but it's certainly not bad.
Tracklist: 1. Over & Over / 2. Pentagram And Crucifix / 3. Conviction / 4. The Way Beyond / 5. Possession / 6. Black To Gold / 7. There Is Nowhere / 8. Haunted Hunted / 9. All Abandon