Released at the end of last month, King Woman’s latest full-length, Created in the Image of Suffering (Relapse Records) is nothing if not intriguing. Like contemporary Chelsea Wolfe, lead vocalist Kristina Esfandiari dives into the depths of doom, reaching similar leagues as Wolfe did on her masterful Abyss, the difference being Esfandiari’s sense of subtle urgency, her anxiousness, and the slow burn of darkness flowing in between each and every note.
Unfortunately not every track on the album is a strong one. “Hierophant” is essentially Esfandiari alone with her guitar. The song starts to build up, but a climax never comes, leaving one ultimately disappointed. The last track, “Hem,” is by far the standout of the eight songs. Sure to elicit repeated listening, it’s hypnotic and strangely sensual. Where “Hierophant” falls flat, “Hem” more than makes up for the flop, especially for the surprise ending featuring members of a congregation singing us out of our place of worship and into the sunlight.
What is great about this album is it feels as if nothing is out of place. It is as if some cosmic force produced this album and told King Woman what to do and when. Otherworldly.