We are ensconced in an era where everything must be super serious. No fun, man! None at all. Every record must live up to some bizarre standard, and if for some reason people might have fun listening to your record instead of contemplating everything that is true during its run time, then it is something that must be run into the ground.
That’s a big issue with being a metal fan and scribe in 2015. Certainly there are plenty of bands whose sole purpose seems to be to fulfill lives, and their albums get waves of adulation that sometimes go overboard. But not every band has to change the world or live up to some preordained rules in order to be legitimate and strong. That’s not to suggest that Christian Mistress don’t belong in the aforementioned conversation, because they’ve put out some damn good music during their run. But as of late, they’ve being shoved into that territory where the internet doubts them and their mission is cast with dismissing comments. I have no idea why, but that’s what I’m feeling simmering in social media filth. But that’s harsh as Christian Mistress always have been a loose, strong, fun heavy metal machine that reaches back into the 1970s and 1980s for inspiration and have done so again on their third full-length effort “To Your Death.” They make damn good records, and I seriously they doubt where people slot them on the metal tree of woe anyhow.
“Neon” kicks off the record with catchy riffs and the feeling we’re jettisoning back to three decades ago when the power of metal was more important than philosophical nit picking. “I don’t care anymore,” Davis bellows over the chorus, as some strong dual guitar lines spill in, the band chugs out, and the line, “If we meet in the dark, everything is all right,” hammers home the exclamation point. “Stronger Than Blood” has a Thin Lizzy feel to it, and the intensity keeps building, especially when Davis belts, “We’re ready to fight, are you coming along?” The song is commanding and sticky, remaining in your head long after it’s done playing. Guitars light up immediately at the start of “No Place,” as dual playing lights the way and Davis warns, “They’re going to take it all away.” “Walkin’ Around” is not as light as the title may suggest. In fact, there are dark matters going on here as the song takes its time to build, but as Davis gets going on the verses, the guitars strike along with her. She lets on not all is well, though, as she admits, “Looking for something to hold, you’re giving me nothing at all,” and she and the rest of the band show their defiance.
“Open Road” is the first single from the record (Davis directed to video clip for the track), and it’s a pretty catchy one. There’s a journey to this one, which you can tell just from Davis’ words and singing, and the band injects the right amount of energy. “I want you back in my arms,” Davis wails over the chorus, and the soloing charges up and soars down the burning pavement. “Ultimate Freedom” changes things up a bit, as the beginning of the song is quieter and more reflective before it rips open. “Suddenly I am free,” Davis declares, as the guitars rise back up and give chase, the tempo swings back and forth, and eventually the power bleeds out. “Lone Wild” also pulls up on the reins, with Davis leading with singing that’s a little different than her usual raspy howl, and the track eventually getting louder. Acoustics settle in, letting things get calm, but then we’re back to bursts, with Davis admitting, “Maybe I’m just wasting my time,” as the quaking continues, the emotions push and pull, and the song comes to an abrupt finish. Closer “III” is an instrumental that’s glorious and steaming, with riffs piling on top of each other and the group taking you to a melodic surging conclusion.
Christian Mistress’ music may not be doing this on purpose, but it truly pays homage to metal’s roots, when you could drown in riffs and have a great time doing so. “To Your Death” is a little different than the band’s previous work, and it does take a bit more time to sink into your bloodstream. But once it takes its hold on you, you’ll want to be blowing down the same highways with the band, with dust and wind in your hair.
For more on the band, go here: http://christianmistress.blogspot.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/store.html
For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com