Although there are some outstanding female-fronted doom outfits that don’t dabble in witchcraft and wizardry (Witch Mountain and Windhand being two excellent examples), most of the ones that do aren’t taking things any further than what Jex Thoth and Blood Ceremony were playing 10 years ago. But once in a while, a band such as all-female trio High Priestess catches my ear with some heavy, head-nodding doom riffs and just enough of the occult mysticism à la Jex to keep me interested for 40+ minutes on their self titled debut.
High Priestess opens with “Firefly,” the longest song on here at nearly 10 and a half minutes. This one starts off slow with a heavy, lumbering bass line à la OM, with the other instruments also giving off a Middle Eastern vibe. The first heavy guitar riff comes crashing in around 2:15, but there is still a droning bass line to go along with the soaring vocal harmonies. Overall, it’s a very mellow, very chill vibe.
“Despise,” the next-longest song (8:15) starts off in even mellower territory with some Spanish-style guitar, and features a soothing vocal over some pulsating drums, before the first heavy riff kicks in just past the two-minute mark. We even get a death-metal growl or two, interspersed with the clean singing, and an extended instrumental passage past the four-minute mark. This one lacks a bit of the punch of its predecessor, however.
The other four tracks range from four to seven minutes long. On the short side, “Banshee” is another vocal driven-verse with some African-style percussion, before one of the heaviest riffs on this record kicks in on the chorus, along with the haunting vocal refrain of “Dead and Gone.” Likewise, “Mother Forgive Me” is the closest they come to traditional doom, although the soaring Witch Mountain chorus falls between some much softer, semi-whispered verses.
“Take the Blame” was released as a pre-release promo single, and features a pretty solid 70’s style riff in lockstep with the plaintive vocal. Fans of Blues Pills would eat this up. “Earth Dive” ends the album on a softer, mellower note. If Blood Ceremony was jamming “Planet Caravan,” it might sound something like this.