Prior to the Fire- Priestess

Release Year: 2010

Rating: 9/10

I mentioned this band before a while back and how they don’t receive enough recognition for how awesome they are. I still stand by that point and this album is sure to convince you. Priestess manages to expand the sound of their second album by incorporating more elements of prog-rock and heavy metal into their music, which results in an intense and dark album. Though this release caused the band to be dropped by their label RCA because they didn’t want to change it, the result shows that they made the right decision.

The album opens with the heavy and intense track “Lady Killer.” As soon as the song begins you can hear the metal influence. The guitars are aggressive, they speed through the track, and the music is intense all around. The vocals here sound more rough and harsh than they did on their debut, but it seems to be only for this song. The song itself is pretty dark, not just in terms of music. As stated by one of the band members, it’s about revenge against a serial killer. It’s pretty obvious to tell since the song mentions stalking, violence and vengeance. It’s a great way to start the album; it really gets you into it.

There is not a song here that will disappoint. “Raccoon Eyes” has a driving guitar riff that has more of their rock sound than the rest of the songs here. It also has a touch of a 70’s vibe, while “Sideways Attack” has a punk rock/thrash metal vibe due to the insanely fast tempo. It’s energetic, aggressive, and a bad ass song in general. There’s also a lot of intricate guitar work and it suddenly changes tempo flawlessly. It’s an awesome song about a guy you don’t want to fuck with. The track “Lunar” starts out with racing drums that sound like horses galloping through the night. The guitar work is great here as always. The vocals change again as they are a bit deeper. At times he even manages to sound like Ozzy. The songs are great all around and will leave you impressed with the band.

What makes the songs so interesting on the record aside from the complex music are the subjects of the songs themselves. “Murphy’s Theory” is a slower track that has a hypnotizing riff. When looking at the lyrics it can be difficult to decipher what it’s about, since it has lines like “Eat your baby food/Scum filled city streets afraid.” But if you’ve seen Robocop then you’ll most likely get it. Yes, the song is about Robocop. This went right over my head because I’ve never seen the movie, but the song is impressive because it never once mentions the robotic cop himself and it doesn’t sound like a cheesy fanboy song. The awesome “It Baffles the Mind” has trilling guitars, booming drums and a jarring, out of tune intro that really catches your attention. The lyrics talk about a fighting tournament and it turns out the song is a reference to a tournament from Dragon Ball Z. If they can make that show sound interesting, they can do anything.

One of the best songs here is “Communicating Via-Eyes.” The beginning is unlike anything else found on the record. It starts out quietly with soft vocals and a mellow acoustic guitar. This part has a folk rock vibe until the music explodes in a mass of drums and electric guitars. The song makes references to the moon, tearing out guts, blood, and a guilty conscience. Right away I thought it was about American Werewolf in London. It’s not, but I wasn’t far off; it’s about a guy who turns into a werewolf. The only other place you would expect to hear a song like this is on a Rob Zombie album. The fact that the band writes about their interests and favorite movies not only makes the songs memorable, but unique as well.

As mentioned earlier, the band has more of a prog-rock/metal sound on this album, whereas their first had more of a classic rock and psychedelic sound. Due to the prog-rock elements, a lot of the music is really intricate and complex. At times, it’s hard to describe what the guitar sounds like. There are even songs that go on longer than they should (“The Gem”) because they’re jamming out. But more than anything this sounds like a heavy metal album. The guitars are intense and aggressive, which makes the music darker overall. The songs are also harder than they were on their debut. It’s a slight tweak to their sound, but they work with it really well.

The album gets 9/10. This sophomore release shows why Priestess is an awesome band. They’re songs are unique in both subject and sound. Their music is intense and will get you head banging, whether you’re a headbanger or not. The drop from RCA may have hurt the promotion of this album, but I think it was worth it because they were able to release a stellar album. They are now working on their third album, so let’s hope we hear new music from them soon.

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