Bart M. : 'High Priestess', the eponymous debut album of this trio from Los Angeles, feels both surprising and familiar. This is psychedelic doom at its essence.
The album starts out with the wonderful 'Firefly', a song so mellow that you would almost think it was about a lazy Sunday afternoon, despite the crushing riffs. And it might well have been, because what the atmosphere it summons reminds me of is not so far removed from the feeling some of the happier 60's bands created. It is not until the second song though, 'Despise', that we get a proper taste of what this band is about, and as the song progresses from a somewhat sober, Spanish intro to a far heavier, dronier part, we get to experience the full, ferocious fury of Mariana Fiel's voice. It grabs you by the throat and will send shivers down your spine, but in brief, powerful jabs so that you will not get overwhelmed. 'Mother Forgive Me': I cannot even comprehend what is going on here. First of all, musically it is flawless, but thematically it is so much more interesting. What the high priestess has done is take several Christian key values and twisted them ever so slightly so as to make some kind of horrid perversion of it. All of this is made a hundred times stronger by the use of innocent, girlish vocals and a background melody reminiscent of the song 'Black Sabbath'. It all fits together perfectly. Until finally there is 'Earth Dive', and right from the start it feels as if someone is taking you by the hand, leading you to a realm of dark fantasy. The dreamy guitars, the haunting organ, the tempting voice. A song you wish would never end. Because I do not like to do a song by song review I did not mention 'Banshee' and 'Take The Blame', but believe me when I say they fit among the other songs splendidly.
This album has everything that makes the music of the seventies so exciting: the psychedelics, the adventure, the freedom, the vibe, but also its originality. High Priestess understands what this music is about and thus manages to bring all of this groovy goodness in their own powerful and unique way, and with plenty of doom driven riffage.