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King Woman - Celestial Blues review

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Band: King Woman
Album: Celestial Blues
Release date: July 2021

01. Celestial Blues
02. Morning Star
03. Boghz
04. Golgotha
05. Coil
06. Entwined
07. Psychic Wound
08. Ruse
09. Paradise Lost

You may think that you don't need another album about Lucifer, but you do.

Kristina Esfandiari is a woman of a lot of projects. Some of which didn't even yet release a full length. But throughout her work she did death industrial as NGHTCRWLR, ethereal dream pop as Sugar High and as Miserable, industrial hip-hop as Dalmatian, a brief membership in shoegaze band Whirr, as well as a bunch of guest appearances. But regardless of all of these, Kris will always be King Woman first and foremost to me. Which is also ironic because she is the part of King Woman that I still have to properly grow into. I mean, the moment you hear Kris' vocals here, you know that there isn't anyone is the scene that really sounds like her.

The sound of King Woman was always a sort of stonery sludgy doom metal with massive indie tinges. That's pretty much what propelled Created In The Image Of Suffering into an instant classic status and created such a wide crossover appeal. What Celestial Blues does is make the blend of occult doom and indie take the sludgy leap deeper into post-metal territories, while also brewing everything into a mix of a sound that is more fully integrated. Though comparisons to acts like Chelsea Wolfe, Emma Ruth Rundle, Darkher, Blood Ceremony and Windhand might still be valid, this one feels like it has much more than Kris' vocals to latch on to for the uniqueness of its sound.

Speaking of indie sensibilities, is it a surprise considering Kris' other projects that the album oozes of grunge, shoegaze, post-rock and alt rock throughout. Hell, at times this feels closer to being a 90s alt rock album than a doom metal one, with songs like "Coil" feeling pure 90s. In a way this is more of a "doom metal for people who listen to indie" rather than the other way around. To be expected from a band that also released an amazing cover of "I Wanna Be Adored". Kris' vocals move from harsh shrieks, punky shouts, lullaby whispers, melancholic crooning to match the extended sound palette, but her vocals are still distinctively divisive. I can't say that I love them, but I can easily see them being perceived as either a "tour-de-force" or as "terrible". That might also be tied to how much indie one prefers in their metal.

A lot of the album is captivated by the vocals, so there is a bit of a tendency for the instrumental part to feel like it acts like just a support for those. Sure, hard to compete with vocals like that, and the instrumentals sure do their job in supporting them, but the album wouldn't be half as good without those grooves and walls of sounds. The album as a whole seems a bit less reverb-heavy than its predecessor, instead opting to leave out a bit more space in the mix. Though the use of biblical allegories intertwined with personal experience is nothing new, and I'm not really the best person to ask to dive into lyrics, I did enjoy what I managed to grab onto.

Whether this is overhyped Pitchfork-tier nonsense or a doomgaze classic in the making doesn't really matter much to me. I'm just waiting for the day when I Kris' vocals properly grow on me.

Anyway, here's a fan video of Kris performing Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" with Thou. And the mandatory album Bandcamp embed:

Written on 09.08.2021 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 7   Visited by: 104 users
09.08.2021 - 18:58

Amazing record. Her experiences from the last few years fueled those great lyrics. I really like this release.
09.08.2021 - 20:33
Lord Slothrop

This album is in my top 5 of the year so far. I haven't listened to everything Esfandiari has done yet, but I've enjoyed everything I've heard.
09.08.2021 - 23:18
I had never heard this cover of "I Wanna Be Adored". Man, what a fantastic version!

As far as this album is concerned, it has all the ingredients that should make me love it (alt, indie, '90s, doom, etc.) but somehow it doesn't always click. This woman is very talented, no doubt about that, and I also love her transformations in the videos.

Nice review, pretty much what I think of the album's sound too.
10.08.2021 - 11:16

Great review. I agree with everything said here. This is the kind of album that will really hit good when I'm in the mood for it.
10.08.2021 - 16:55

Timely cover post (The Chain). I just finished listening to Lindsey Buckingham on Marc Maron's WTF (great interview by the way) and then listened to a lot of the old Fleetwood Mac library including Rumours. Pretty cool cover. I also really liked this album.
15.08.2021 - 00:56
Meat and Potatos
Neither blues nor celestial. 0/10
Rose is red, violet is blue. Flag is win, Baba is you.
18.08.2021 - 15:48
Crème fraiche

Really enjoying this album at the moment! You can hear the pain in her voice as she cries out and transitions into a harsh bellow..

The guitar tone is totally on point too! So much to love here!

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