Struck By Lightning – True Predation by endlessgonzo

Alright, time to kick off a new month filled with great metal and sounds heavy enough to blot out the springtime sun. When I wasn’t wringing my hands over my fantasy baseball team (Cliff Lee with a pulled butt muscle? Shoot me now), I was perusing some of the fresh harvest of full lengths that are getting ready to hit your ghetto blasters/car stereos/mpfree players. Among the releases that stuck out to me was Struck By Lightning’s newest full-length, True Predation. In case anyone didn’t hear their previous release Serpents (and shame of fucking shames on you if you didn’t), Struck is a band fronted by Gregory Lahm of Mouth of the Architect and Kline, Leach and Owens of Menorrhagia. I’ve never heard Menorrhagia, but MotA are one of my favorite doom bands of recent memory, so let’s get the comparisons out of the way; well…there really aren’t any.

Yes, Struck By Lightning has virtually no sonic relation to Lahm’s previous stuff with MotA, so fuck that. It’s far more aggressive, has almost no focus on the drifting, meditative doom that Mouth spat out, and would be more comfortable on a live show lineup with Black Tusk and Mastodon than Cult of Luna or Rosetta. These guys pretty much rip into all of the tracks with the same unyielding intensity, alongside a heavy emphasis on post-hardcore rhythms, rainforests of pummeling toms, and the best use of the word fuck in lyrics  this year, “Mindfucker.” That one is a doozy on its own, making me fist pump at my desk harder than anything since the last Tragedy record. Sweet, sweet goodness to soothe that sunburnt soul as we head into the hotter months down here in America’s peen. Pick this up and prepare to thrash. Avoid if you feel betrayed by Lahm no longer being willing to swim in the arctic sludge ocean.

Out this month on Translation Loss Records!

– Chris Nunez

Christian Mistress – Possession by orlandooom407

I feel like I missed like three or four albums in between Christian Mistress’s 2010 Agony and Opium and their 2011 Relapse debut: Possession.  Their first release was the talk of the metal underground with its lo-fi basement recording and NWOBHM influences. They were lumped in with the rising tide of retro bands that showcase their classic influences on their sleeves and use gimmicks to cover up their lack of songwriting chops. Turns out that anyone who lumped Christian Mistress in with this camp deserves a swift kick square to the bean pouch. There is nothing retro about Posession.  Heavily armed with beefy production and monumental hooks, Christian Mistress sounds like a band on the verge of mainstream success.

For people who love heavy music this particular metallic flavor never really went out of style, and it’s  familiar but never boring. I imagine this is how most people feel about warm blankets and mashed potatoes. For me it’s dueling guitars, plain striding rhythms and a singer with a banshee’s range. All of this is presented without a wink of irony, gimmicky costumes, cheese drenched lyrics about Satan. Neglecting said motifs makes me love this album even more. Iron Maiden comes up frequently as the band’s most obvious influence and its hard to disagree with that. Aside from the blatant musical influence they also bare the attitude of Iron Maiden’s first two albums on Posession.  The early Maiden albums proved that you could have technical skill and grand ambition while playing with the “get in the van” break neck abandon of a punk band.

Along with the extravagant leap in production, the band’s songwriting has grown more dynamic. From the power balladry of “There Is Nowhere” to 70’s boogie rock riffs in “Black to Gold”, Christian Mistress prove they are more versatile than most of their peers. Signs of additional potential progression are apparent. Posession is just one of those albums that comes along ever now and then that just cuts through trends and all the sub sub sub genres of modern metal and reminds you why you love this kind of music.

Possession is set for a February 28th release through Relapse Records.

Click here to pre-order and preview Possession from CM’s Bandcamp page.

Click here to check out the Christian Mistress blog.

– Clark Johnson