Christian Mistress - Agony & Opium (20 Buck Spin)

What the hell is this? It seems like Geddy Lee encountered some old NWOBHM band and decided to make a jam. What is the result? Fenriz of Darkthrone seems to have loved it!

I confess I’d never heard of Christian Mistress until I came across the album Agony and Opium to write this review and I was in shock to learn that this band was ignored by most of people of the Earth. Not, however, by Fenriz, who has the absurd serendipity to find such good acts and reveal it to the world.

The surprise was even bigger when I learned that the band is American (hailing from Olympia/WA), confirming my suspicions that a renaissance of a yankee trad metal is on its course.

The opener Riding on the Edges comes as a point blank attack with the killer vocals of Christine Davis. She sings like Geddy Lee! Sue me if you think I’m wrong, but that’s the first impression and it’s really to die for!

But the similarities with Rush end here, since the band clip their sound with that made in NWOBHM: The production of Agony and Opium is raw, and it seems they really are from 1980s (influenced by the 1970s), rather than just an imitation of the bands of that era. But if references are needed think of Tigers of Pan Tang and of course Iron Maiden (mainly their first two albums).

Desert Rose starts with a misterious atmosphere and just confirms the paramont quality of this album. Christine Davis shows over again her versatility and capacity to entertain the listener with her wonderful - in a gritty way - voice.

But the soloing is where the band members exceed themselves. That’s when Home in The Sun and Poison Path - try to find some similarity with Maiden’s Twilight Zone -  appear, showcasing workmanlike riffs and the intimacy of Ryan McClain and Oscar Sparbel with their respective fretboards. The solos are long and magic! Superb!

The ditty Black Vigil shows no shortage of musical good taste but this time with all the aforementioned characteristics of the album compressed in less than 3 minutes. This time try to find Anvil’s School Love hidden in the first riffs!

The closer Omega Stone (damn, it’s only 6 songs) seems to be more trippy with its sad tune. When you think that the normal thing to do is to finish the album with a semi-ballad, then, out of the blue, the music progresses to a crazy off-beat trad heavy metal, dividing the song in two.

You can call Agony and Opium retro if you will, but I  think it’s rather the return of the Belle Époque of heavy metal. If I see a teenager headbanging to the sound of this band, then I’ll believe kids are doing their homework. Oldshoolers and die-hards will love it. It’s an album that I won’t forget for the years to come!

Christian Mistress’  Agony & Opium is out now on 20 Buck Spin