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Christian Mistress: To Your Death

Washingtonian retro-metallers roam within their bounds

It’s an act of moot audacity for Relapse – whose back catalogue bulges with singular sonic experimentation – to begin their Christian Mistress press release by claiming that this quintet “have proven their originality” like “few artists in recent memory”.

Realistically, the concept of originality is the elephant in the room of contemporary heavy metal, and especially the last decade’s glut of female-fronted doomy retro-rock and faux-NWOBHM pastiche, which this outfit fall squarely into line with.

Which is fine; there’s plenty of satisfaction to be had here, just no surprises, with irresistibly winsome twin-guitar harmonies, enthusiastic soloing and galloping rhythms providing a neat backdrop for the husky, ballsy vocals of Christine Davis. On their third LP, CM’s hook-writing savvy continues to develop, with infectious, driving tunes like Stronger Than Blood, Neon and Open Road fairly earning comparisons to Pat Benatar and Thin Lizzy, plus a dash of Pentagram doom among the standard early Priest/Maiden shapes. CM seem content to tread water in their fashionably vintage gene pool, but they do so with elegance and skill.