Christian Mistress' second formal release -- and first full album, if one counts Agony & Opium as an EP -- finds the Olympia quintet in even stronger form than before, the group's eager embrace of early-'80s metal energy and singing coming together with a bang once again. Starting with the rollicking kick of "Over and Over," Christine Davis again proves to be the unmistakable core of the whole thing, her passionately throaty voice proving to be one of the best from that neck of the Pacific Northwest yet, a worthy descendant of Heart's Wilson sisters at their powerful best, mixed with just that much more kick to stand up to the chugging sprawl and slam of the group. Perfectly titled songs, like "Haunted Hunted" and "Pentagram and Crucifix," capture the kind of surging and stately crunch that the band make to a T, the precision in the solos matched with a brawling punch in riffs and rhythms. Said sprawl can look even further back when needed -- the opening to the title track, in combination with Davis' wordless vocals, could almost be emerging from the same primordial location that Black Sabbath first unearthed -- while "There Is Nowhere" has the strongest sense of a moody sensibility more Fairport Convention than Led Zeppelin. When the band goes fully acoustic, as on the opening to "The Way Beyond," the effect isn't power ballad-commerciality but blues-tinged elegance, just the right thing to lighten the album up before bringing the big riffs back in. If the sheer timelessness of the album's sound makes it seem like just a revisit to something long passed, the mere fact that the sound still works -- and works damn well -- is further proof that so long as someone can bring just that much more of an individual spin to a sound, there's all the more reason to enjoy seeing it thrive, and Christian Mistress will never need to apologize for thriving.
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett