Kris Esfandiari has released many different styles of music under many different monikers. There is Miserable, a solo, Shoegaze project of Esfandiari. Then, there’s NGHTCRWLR, an Experimental, Noise, Industrial outfit. With each project more different than the last, Esfandiari is a versatile and inventive vocalist gifted at making transgressive music. On Celestial Blues (Relapse Records), Esfandiari returns as King Woman. Following up 2017’s Created in the Image of Suffering, the sophomore album from King Woman is a shocking release that is like horror.
Celestial Blues is a frightening and suspenseful album with haunting vocals and thrilling riffs. Right away with the album art, Celestial Blues creates a sense of dread, especially with the imagery of blood. There is a familiar sense of Doom and Gloom like from the first King Woman album lurking underneath the surface. “Celestial Blues” opens with a kind of spoken word vocals and mellow instrumentation then becomes Sludgey with a thick, glazy bass. The sonic plot twists, like good scary films, get under the skin in an intense way.
King Woman create a transgressive musical journey by creating and subverting expectations. “Golgotha” embodies the Grunge elements of King Woman while other songs like “Morning Star“ has a Shoegaze feel. King Woman also couples those attributes with qualities like Black Metal, particularly on “Psychic Wound.” Here, a sense of with wailing guitar licks and vocals that range from screeching to hissing in some places.
What is striking about Celestial Blues is the emergence of a singular persona on the part of Esfandiari for an entire album. At times, that persona is soft-spoken. In other moments, that persona is expressionistic and brutal ferocity. There is also a seemingly non-western style works that perfectly with the heavy riffs and textures. “Entwined” has singing that doesn’t sound like vocals typically found in western music. Through it all, what ultimately emerges on Celestial Blues is that of an empowered persona who faces darkness and triumphs over it.
Woe betide those who hear Celestial Blues! Purchase the album here:
9 / 10