Priestess - Prior To The Fire
Stoner/Hard Rock
11 songs (46:40)
Release year: 2009
Priestess, Indica
Reviewed by Khelek
Album of the month

Priestess caught my attention with their debut release back in 2006 and when I read the review on this website I knew they were band I needed to check out, and I was not disappointed. Hello Master was a really fun, groovy hard rock album that had great energy and is an album I still listen to regularly after a few years. Now the guys are back with their second release, Prior To The Fire. Where Hello Master was simple and catchy, this album seems more thoughtful with the song structures becoming more complex, though there is still plenty of the down to earth hard rock energy that was developed in the debut.

The first song, Lady Killer, starts out fast with plenty of drums and quick guitar riffs. When the vocals of Mikey Heppner come in I notice they sound different than on the first album, they are a bit deeper and raspier, and they seem lower in the mix but still perfectly heard above the instruments. This is a pretty catchy tune and the guitar solo towards the end really brings out the hard rock roots in this song as well as the catchy guitar riffs. Raccoon Eyes has a memorable guitar riff and here we have the higher, cleaner vocals that are more reminiscent of Hello Master. This is a song that very easy to get into and really drives the album forward even though it's less than three minutes long. Definitely single material as it is one of the catchiest and most memorable from the album. The Firebird comes in with another strong riff. Every song so far has had a guitar solo, whether it's technically impressive or not doesn't matter, they all sound good and go with the song which I think is most important. The guys are showing yet again that they are excellent songwriters. The chorus in this song can get a bit repetitive, but it's almost to be expected from a catchy, fun album such as this. This song really has a great, driving energy to it.

This album certainly sounds like the guys have added some more complexity to their songwriting as some songs on this album are not quite as immediately accessible and simple as on their first one. We get more complex riffs and drumming, songs that tend to change pace from time to time, changing tempos, etc, and that just wasn't there on the first album. Communicating Via-Eyes is certainly an example of this, though it gets off to a slow start. However, this complexity is not always a good thing. The Gem is the longest song on the album at about 8 minutes and starts out strong with plenty of interesting guitar work that builds the energy until the vocals come in. However the energy tends to wane after about 5 minutes or so. The calmer interlude isn't necessarily bad; it just does not keep my attention. It attempts to build the energy back up, but I do not think the song ends with as much energy as it should have. I'm also noticing Heppner is varying his vocals a bit more on this album than on the first one. The vocals on Lunar almost sound like a different person. This album also seems to have an older, more retro feel than the first one in terms of how the instruments themselves sound. I am reminded specifically of the sound of the band Witchcraft, a newer band that has an older sound.

I think this is a really good follow up to 2006's Hello Master. I was afraid that with all the energy and catchiness on that album that these guys wouldn't be able to deliver something of the same memorable quality as often happens with newer hard rock acts these day. Fortunately Priestess delivers, showing that they have matured over the past few years and still have plenty of catchy riffs and rocking attitude to spare. They also still work some of the more melodic and melancholy elements into their music as well as an additional layer of complexity that just wasn't there on their short there's just more to listen to, more to take in. I am sure I'll be listening to this album for quite some time to come, as it was with their previous release, and I now have even more respect for this young band that has so much energy.

Killing Songs :
Raccoon Eyes, The Firebird, Lunar, We Ride Tonight
Khelek quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Priestess that we have reviewed:
Priestess - Hello Master reviewed by Ross and quoted 80 / 100
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