King Woman

Created in the Image of Suffering

Long live the king
dB rating: 8/10

Release Date: February 24, 2016
Label: Relapse

At the risk of sounding like one of those “progressives” that I’m told are as big a threat to our way of life as climate change, ISIS and the Yellowstone supervolcano, I think it’s pretty great to hear metal interpreted by people who aren’t straight white dudes. King Woman’s Kristina Esfandiari doesn’t exactly shy away from gender politics (see: her Twitter feed, her feud with Pentagram over alleged sexual harassment, her band name), and her music reflects that as she joins a group of artists dragging doom metal out of the opium den and into the coffee house.

Alongside her spiritual brethren in Chelsea Wolfe, Esben and the Witch, and Emma Ruth Rundle, Esfandiari appropriates the leaden tempo and crushing weight of doom and combines it with a confessional, intimate tone more frequently associated with alternative acts like Tori Amos or Concrete Blonde. Created in the Image of Suffering takes a lot of the post-rock and shoegaze elements found on the four-piece’s previous EP, Doubt, and replaces them with a more straightforward gut punch. Combined with Esfandiari’s melancholy delivery and introspective lyrics, King Woman uses atmosphere and repetition to devastating effect, whether through the lumbering juggernaut “Deny” or the gallows blues of “Worn.”

It’s a downer. And lots of metal albums are downers. Coming from a less-explored perspective, though, Created in the Image of Suffering creates an image of suffering that feels fresh. It’s almost as though having different voices enriches a genre… Nah.

— Jeff Treppel

This review taken from the March 2017 issue. Created in the Image of Suffering is available for pre-order from Relapse.

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