Christian Mistress - Possession (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Christian Mistress

Possession (2012)

Relapse Records

It's funny how the years can shift perspective. Had Possession, the new album Christian Mistress, come out in the '80s, it probably would have been compared favorably to Judas Priest, Metallica or Dio-era Black Sabbath (or, ya know, just Dio) and been called "real heavy metal." The '90s would have shunned this record. 2012, though, brings us full circle, and it's once again A-OK to hold that traditional metal flag high.

Then again, not many of the classic metal acts utilized a female lead singer. But frontwoman Christine Davis does her forebears proud, belting out nine metal shredders with all her might. While her raspy range is a little limited--she actually kind of sounds like Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano--it suits the material well.

The real focus, given that this is traditional metal after all, is on the guitars. Ryan McClain and Oscar Sparbel double the six string assaults throughout, and the solos are suitably sick. "Black to Gold" in particular features a nice dual lead from the duo, both in the very rocking intro and during the white hot solos. This one has to slay live.

Possession is neither an ironic throwback nor an homage paralyzed by its own idol worship. Rather, Christian Mistress just takes the building blocks of traditional heavy metal and assembles its own new riffs. "The Way Beyond" has the same kind of classical guitar intro heard on Metallica's "Fade to Black," but the song still shreds. Ultimately, what matters is the players can play.

Christian Mistress hits that metal sweet spot. The band has the technicality needed to bring back that classic era of metal on thrashers like "There is Nowhere" or opener "Over & Over," but rarely overplays the material into tedium. Possession simply rocks.