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black Queen - "The Directress" (CD)

black Queen - "The Directress" CD cover image

"The Directress" track listing:

1. The Old Religion
2. Silentium
3. The Name of Snakes
4. 3rd Key
5. Forever Daggers
6. Beneath the Barrow
7. The Directress

Reviewed by on June 26, 2015

"...one part Italian horror film soundtrack, one part dark hardcore, a pinch of black metal, a sprinkling of death, and then with some experimental floating on the surface."

Pete Jay was the original bassist of Assück, but don’t expect to hear grindcore on “The Directress,” or at least not in as obvious a form. This Seattle-based band plays a brand of metal described as “witch metal.” The ingredients in this audio witches brew consists of one part Italian horror film soundtrack, one part dark hardcore, a pinch of black metal, a sprinkling of death, and then with some experimental floating on the surface.

One area of the album that stands out is the vocals, which are multidimensional. The album features guest vocalists with their own distinct sound: Joy Von Spain from Eye of Nix has an alluring siren song, while Assuck’s Paul Pavlovich and Wrest of Leviathan are much more primal. Pavlovich frighteningly roars during slow passages and sets the tempo when the band grinds. Wrest of Leviathan then adds an occult vibe to the album. I’m not sure if it’s Pete Jay, but the goth vocals are the strongest voice with a monastic feel.

The vocals give much weight to the overall atmosphere of the album, more so than the analog synth, which certainly adds to the horror show, but it takes a supporting role to the guitar and drums that have their own dark aura. Billy Anderson’s production is top notch. Whether captivating movements or sand blasting your face off, the band’s compositions balance speed and slow, dark harmony.

Every song has an intro, a sound clip from a movie or a narration. Album opener “The Olde Religion” contains clips of Aleister Crowley talking about magic. “The Name of Snakes” pulsates like a UFO before a lady narrator says words that start with the letter “s” and are names for snakes. These parts most resemble the Giallo film soundtrack and often open to spell-inducing synths.

“The Directress” is a captivating ride from beginning to end. It really does play like a movie, especially when considering the band saved the best for last, the title track: intense black metal riffing, blasting drums, squealing vocals and riffs. After a particularly doomy section, at around the 6:40 mark there is a pause and then piano notes appear. Murderous piano notes, pinging xylophone and chilling whispers exemplify the witching vibe of the album. This part is like hearing Goblin perform the soundtrack to “Suspiria.”

“The Directress” is a fine album in all aspects. I’m rather fond of the album, but if there was one thing I could change about the record it would be the amount of synth. The synth heard during the intros add a touch of magic to the band’s audio witchcraft, but there isn’t enough synth in the meat of each song. The band still achieves the vibe it's going for in the vocals and the production, however. Fans of Giallo films, occult practitioners and general fans of dark music pick up this one right away!

Highs: The album's Italian horror film vibe.

Lows: The album could use more synth.

Bottom line: Fans of Giallo films, occult practitioners and general fans of dark music pick up this one right away!

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)