Fronted by Kristina Esfandiari (previously of Whirr) this doom metal project was founded back in 2009, but remained fairly inactive since 2013. The band released the Degrida/Sick Bed cassette at that time and followed it up with the Dove/Fond Affections in 2014. Strictly speaking, the band is found within the doom metal subgenre but there are some quite interesting psychedelic tendencies and shoegaze influences in King Woman’s music. What comes as a result of this is that the band merges an old-school doom metal way of thinking with a more modern, call it “post-doom” if you like, attitude. All these sides come together perfectly in the band’s newest EP, Doubt, coming out from The Flenser.
What is the most powerful aspect of King Woman in their latest incarnation is their huge guitar sound. The guitars manage to create a dense sonic veil, surrounding you in the process. Even though this is not the first time such an implementation is being heard, with drone bands applying such methods for years, in the case of Doubt it does create an uncomfortable and even suffocating element, but instead it has a soothing effect on the listener. Even when the instrumentation is minimal, as is the case with “Candescent Soul,” the band still manages to bring forth this feature of their sound. At other moments of course, they will crush you with the sheer density of their sonic wall, as they do in “King of Swords.”
Label: The Flenser
The guitars themselves travel through the spectrum of heavy music and add pieces to the resulting song structures. Some nice experimentation in “Wrong,” with the guitar throwing noise bits is most welcome, and the way that the feedback and effects are implemented near the end of the song is fantastic. But even in the more straightforward parts, the guitars are able to step up their game and come up with some great melodies. Even if it is a more old-school vibe, as is the case with the start of “King of Swords,” or more straightforward, as it happens to be in the opening track, what they do seems to always work. Turning towards more interesting paths in some cases further enhances the depth of the album, with the eerie leads of “Burn” giving you the chills and the dissonant parts soon following, raising the music further beyond.
As you can imagine, the music itself moves at a quite slow pace, even reaching minimalistic areas when that is needed. But what really contributes is how powerful the band’s playing is. In “Wrong,” the band starts things quite slow, but soon enough the drums are introduced, laying down the foundations of the song with their steady powerful beating, always accompanied by the earth-shaking bass. But then there are instances when the tempo becomes more abstract, especially in the closing track of the EP, with the band making little or no use of the drums in parts of the song. The result is quite strange, but it somehow works great for the band.
Still beyond all that, what really stands out is the emotion that the band’s songs are able to carry. No matter if they are more psychedelic or more old-school doom metal, the parts are always able to always sound expressive and open. The lead work of course plays a big part in that, but it is actually the vocals that really hit it over the head. And the strange thing is that within King Woman’s music, the vocals seem to be a bit hidden away. They are not in the spotlight of the music, but they are still able to sound really close to you. The echoing voices of “King of Swords” and the first lines of “Wrong” are just tremendous with their direct take. What is even more intriguing, though, is the darker performance in “Burn,” with a sort of narrative style in the start of the track and a great hook coming in later on with the repetitive phrases.
King Woman is not your standard doom metal band. Their view on the scene is quite holistic, encompassing elements from the early days of the doom metal scene, filling them with psychedelia and shoegaze outrage in this EP. It will be very interesting to see what they can do with a full-length album, and that is something I am really looking forward to.