Priestess – Prior to the Fire – 4/5
I wasn’t actually going to bother listening to this release, their debut a disappointment with a few catchy hooks, a lot of filler and a severe lack of anything of real substance; the entire album felt designed to be so mind-numbingly simplistic that a monkey could immediately find the chugging beats and tap along to the catchy chorus lines. But with their follow up, watch my jaw hit the floor. Whilst they haven’t lost their abilities for hooks, that isn’t the only thing in their arsenal now; the guitars have gone from simple providers of hooks to supplying a never ending supply of riffs and time signatures, almost as readily comparable baroness as their past efforts.
The bass can be heard working away in the back, albeit doing little of note beyond supplying the bottom end, and the drums feel more creative than ever before, if perhaps not as prominent in the end result as I’d have liked. The vocals are as melodic as ever, not conventionally toned but altogether aggressive without ever losing any clarity. Varied in pitch throughout, he also manages to differentiate between levels of aggression, intentionally forcing the words during the more intense chorus lines which remain as memorable as ever before.
But as I hinted at earlier, for me this has all remained for the most part on par, seeing a touch of improvement from before, but the guitar work is what has astounded me. The chords feel more varied, and more often do the two guitar lines weave in and out of one another, relenting to allow the vocals to do what’s needed. Its all been increased in tempo, the slow thumping of the drums as the guitars weave back and forth before hitting that final crescendo, and the solo’s have improved beyond belief as well, providing classic rock solos that would do Blackmore (Deep Purple) proud.
The production isn’t terrible, but altogether feels a little too clean; this isn’t some sci-fi themed sterile piece strived for, and stoner should have plenty of dirt and grit in the works – a bit of ‘fuzziness’ to it all – but this comes off as just a little too neat. I had almost passed this band off as another ‘Guitar Hero Superstar,’ garnering fans through their rise in popularity through the game rather than through their abilities as musicians, but here they prove there’s more to them than I first thought. Touché Priestess.
Highlight: Ladykiller, The Firebird, The Gem, Trapped in Space and Time