KING WOMAN (USA) – Celestial blues, 2021 🇬🇧
When I heard the first eponymous track from the album I’m going to try to write about today, my brain was fried with a nice layer of tempura dipped in soy and wasabi – I think the impact it had on me is clear. For years, for some absurd reason that is now out of place and, I haven’t listened to too many bands with female singers. The high-pitched sounds of some of the singers who, in the past, had so pierced my eardrums, made me create an absurd rejection and I came to think that I would never find pain, melancholy, or anger in them. In short, all those clichés from the doom I usually consume.
Rectifying is wise, and listening to different proposals opens the door to meeting great artists. In this case, Kristina Esfandiari has been a great discovery for this humble mortal. She is a woman with a complex past marked by religion, specifically by the one practiced by Charismatic Christians. For personal reasons, I got to know what they are like, and I can affirm that she has been able to manage all the pain and emotional damage that they may have caused her. I can assure you it can give you material for more than one horror movie, especially if it’s regarding their spiritual retreats.
Kristina Esfandiari is a singer, songwriter, and producer, who is part of several projects with totally different styles and personalities. In October she presented a new alter ego with which she even dares to rap, without leaving aside her tormented personality. It seems that she needs to unleash a whirlwind of creativity and energy. She, herself, commented in an interview that a «psychic» observed her having many reincarnations in her «aura», so it would not be surprising that she channels these «energies» into all her projects.
Having introduced the protagonist, I’ll talk about Celestial Blues now, the work that KING WOMAN, one of her multiple projects, released last July. Released by Relapse Records, I can tell you that for this writer it is going to be one of her albums of the year. Their music exudes alternative rock, doom metal, and progressive, in each of its notes. Their staging totally respects the dynamics of shoegazing, and they avoid any artifice or effect that could take them away from the grunge they surely listened to in their adolescence.
Celestial Blues is the second full-length they have released and, after reading some reviews of the first one and listening to it, I think they have matured and have managed to evolve with quality. It is not an album with great effects, phrasing, solos, or impressive arrangements. It is a raw, simple, and elegant album, which tells with its songs and lyrics the whole process of Kristina Esfandiari‘s overcoming of traumas and delight for the darkness.
With effective and effective riffs, rhythms that accompany the changes of modulation and vocal registers, and an impeccable sound in which you can tell it was recorded in Oakland, California, by Grammy-nominated engineer Jack Shirley (DEAFHEAVEN, AMENRA, OATHBREAKER). Esfandiari and his bandmates; guitarist Peter Arensdorf and drummer Joseph Raygoza, speak of the apocalypse, religious trauma, and the afterlife on each of the tracks that make up Celestial blues.
To talk about each song from Celestial blues would mean breaking the unity that it has and I consider that a first listen in its entirety is advisable. If I had to choose one, it would be «Psychic Wound«. It is a simple track with a repetitive riff that’s close to a mantra -saving the distances- culminated by a claustrophobic vocal line, asking to get out of some deep hole with its desperate screams. Although it may seem to have a very plain and naive structure, it gives the theme the right personality, leaving a very attractive feeling of uneasiness for those of us who enjoy it.
Another track that caught my attention because of the dialogue between Joseph Raygoza‘s patches and Kristina Esfandiari‘s vocals, was «Boghz«; where everything is elegantly threaded together by clean guitar arpeggios interspersed with distorted riffs. All of it helps explain the story described in the lyrics, as it sounds like a description of a very toxic relationship with someone evil, who sounds a lot like a well-known fallen angel.
«Paradise Lost» closes the album with lyrics inspired by John Milton’s poem, but shying away from the style of the poem and moving towards more stark lyrics, and leaves the listener wondering what has just passed through their ears. Kristina Esfandiari‘s voice, accompanied by the chords of a clean guitar, is the perfect ending to this work, leaving us waiting to understand everything we’ve been listening to.
I think this is an album that can be appealing to all those people who feel attracted by what I have just explained, and to whoever is eager to discover new sounds and artists. My «mainstream viral» summary of this year has changed a lot from the previous one, and I don’t regret it at all. Those ears used to CHELSEA WOLFE, EMMA RUTH RUNDLE, and I even venture to mention DARKHER, should not hesitate to approach the tormented world of KING WOMAN.