Priestess - Prior to the Fire
Record Label: Tee Pee
Release Date: February 2, 2010
Priestess are a hard rock four-piece from Montreal releasing their sophomore album, the follow-up to 2006's Hello Master.
How Is It?
There's certainly nothing in the music to suggest that vocalist/guitarist Mikey Heppner was once bandmates with three dudes who are now in The Stills. Priestess cover a fairly wide range of heavy metal styles, from the thrash of the fiery opener "Lady Killer" to the AC/DC-laced arena sound of "Raccoon Eyes" to the sludgy Black Sabbath doom of "It Baffles the Mind". The nearly eight-minute "The Gem" encompasses just about all the above, even including a few riffs with a symphonic metal feel. When it comes to this style, the comparison that comes most quickly is probably Mastodon, but Priestess's songs have simpler structures and seem aimed at more mainstream audiences.
Priestess sound best when they unleash the full force of their fury, like on "Lady Killer", the speedy closer "Trapped in Space and Time", the hardcore punk-sounding "Sideways Attack", which comes off almost like a Murder City Devils tune, and "Lunar", which is anchored by some manic, galloping drums. On less electrifying songs, like "Raccoon Eyes" and "We Ride Tonight", the more straightforward approach combined with Heppner's aggressive singing style recalls a sludgier and slightly more technical Three Days Grace. That's probably a fitting analogue, though. While Prior to the Fire doesn't exhibit the ingenuity or songwriting prowess of a Mastodon or Baroness, it has the slickness and melodic sense to appeal to that alt-metal set, while not exactly falling into that style. Overall, it's a palatable mix of retro-leaning metal that's suitable for headbanging or playing air-guitar but doesn't cover much new ground.
For Fans Of: Valient Thorr, Queens of the Stone Age, and Torche