King Woman – “Celestial Blues” (Relapse Records)
Battle Helm Rating
If melancholic, siren-esque wailings blossoming from heavy psych doom is your trip, then San Franciso’s King Woman will no doubt appeal to you! Comparable to similar femme fronted metal bands like Windhand and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, King Woman’s Kristina Esfandiari is no less of a force both vocally, where her exotic Persian and Serbian heritage have had much influence, but equally her wider musical projects like the drone noise of Nightcrwler, the shoegaze of Miserable and the rap of Dalmatian. Releasing their debut “Created In The Image of Suffering” in early 2017, King Woman return with a meaty follow up in “Celestial Blues”, whose 9 tracks are a mix of droning doom sludge and ambient melancholia. Thanks to the huge sound which does fine justice to the massive down tuned riffs of Peter Arendorf along with Joseph Raygoza’s drum pounding, the captivating atmosphere is no less enshrouding thanks to Esfandiari’s trance inducing vocals that wail and snake their way around your mind and into your soul – man, it’s trip! Opening serenely to delicate strings and Esfandiari’s oral hypnosis on ‘Morning Star’, it takes but an instant for the lulling tranquillity to be shattered as the instruments crash in like a tidal wave of power riffs, booming bass and drum roll barrages, only for more trippy harmonies to come chanting in to build to a galactic culmination – wow. If ‘Boghz’ is from the Farsi describing an emotional build in the throat before venting, then this song expresses it perfectly, slowly building from ambient melancholia to musical anger and finally unloading Esfandiari’s vocal fury in a storm of down tuned doom riffs, growling bass, feedback and earth-shattering drums – brilliant. Adding acoustics to the exoticism of ‘Golgotha’, Esfandiari’s harmonies along with some subtle eastern percussion show the influences of her other work, along with some dramatic background screams, before heavy droning riffs bring their savage contrast to this alt, but no less epic track – superb. Beginning as a solo project over a decade ago, Kristina Esfandiari has built King Woman into the force that she has come to be.