Christian Mistress

Agony and Opium

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    8
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This six-song EP by the Olympia, WA-based, female-fronted retro-metal quintet Christian Mistress is solidly rooted in early-'80s sounds. The band's loose yet driving rhythm takes from New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands like Iron Maiden (in their early, punky, pre-Bruce Dickinson incarnation), Diamond Head, and the like; drummer Reuben Storey hits hard, but his pounding hasn't been locked to a Pro Tools grid by a producer, and the music has a deeply human feel as a consequence. Guitarists Ryan McClain and Oscar Sparbel crank out riffs that sound straight from 1979-1980, while bassist Johnny Wulf locks in with Storey and keeps things firmly anchored. As impressive as McClain and Sparbel are (and they are), frontwoman Christine Davis is the primary selling point. Her slightly hoarse yet powerful vocals combine the incantatory power of Patti Smith, the raw force of Wendy O. Williams, and the howls of Nicole Lee of '80s Chicago thrashers Znöwhite. The organic production and classicist songwriting make Agony and Opium a genuinely timeless album; it could have been made at any time between 1980 and 2010, and a subset of metal fans, those truly committed to the denim-vest-over-leather-jacket lifestyle, will love it.

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