I think one of the best things about being part of the SGM fam is the freedom that we have, since we answer to no one but ourselves. We are a group of women from all walks of life who join here to try to create something new and different, if such a thing is still possible. We don’t allow advertising on our site, so we can post about anything, in any form, and that is something I genuinely cherish. So in that stead, we thought it would be interesting to offer a couple of simultaneous posts. Below you’ll find two reviews of the new King Woman album Created In The Image of Suffering. I have teamed up with Pygopagus to offer our thoughts on this album, and we decided to showcase how far-ranging our opinions on it were, sort of a dueling pianos review. Check it out!
Thalia Gore’s Review
It seems like every time I hear about a band lately, they are from the Bay Area. I have yet to check out the scene, but I’ve definitely been meaning to stop by to check out some shows and see what the vibe is like over there. The most recent SF band to come up on my radar is King Woman, as they have just released Created In The Image of Suffering on Relapse Records.
I was excited to check out this album as soon as I heard of it’s impending release and the corresponding video for “Deny.” This marks the debut full-length album from Kristina Esfandiari and the album is laced with her own personal demons lingering in the dark, hazy sound this trio creates.
The album starts off with “Citious” the digital-only track that was an album bonus. This track runs roughly one minute and slowly eases you into King Woman’s sound. As the second track, “Utopia,” unfolds, you are suddenly wrapped in a gauzy and distorted doom womb.
I like the fact that Esfandiari’s vocals are even with the music, not above it nor far below, creating a seamlessly woven balance. I really appreciate how haunting she can sound between the distortion and echoes. Like she’s caught somewhere in the afterlife and is kind of okay with being there.
Sadly the album starts to lose me at “Hierophant,” at which point things start to feel too repetitive. A chorus is sung one too many times or a riff harped on a little too often. I think they have great potential and a genuinely unique sound, but I think come their next album they should delve a little deeper into the editing process. Overall I think this is a great debut and I will be interested to see how their sound matures.
King Woman unveils their debut full-length album, Created In The Image of Suffering, and I hand the veil back. The first track, “Citios”, the digital only bonus track slaps you in the face with its cringe-worthy vibe of an angst riddled teen, with nothing to complain about, who just discovered how to make something “artistic” in Garageband. It didn’t feel like a bonus it’s more of warning for the quality of the rest of the album.
You often see the adjectives, “breathy, hypnotic and ethereal” thrown around when referencing female vocals with a similar, super on-trend vocal style. This album strikes me as a high school band trying their best to emulate Chelsea Wolfe for a Battle of the Bands in the high school gym. It’s contrived, from their look, the album name, the sound – it’s all a little too on the nose to work or feel authentic. The vocals sound lifeless and without the effects and layering wouldn’t be record-worthy. The music itself is slow, repetitive and hugely uninspiring. I was particularly frustrated with the mixing of the record in relation to the snare drum. It’s so sharp that it’s jarring compared to the rest of the heavily sedated sounds.
As I listened through each track, hoping that I was nearing an amazing moment that would change things around, I got more anxious and frustrated by how unpolished the album is. The lyrical content, vocals and instrumentation is uncomfortably elementary. The hip thing that I would expect them to do is take all of their weaknesses and try to spin them into an intentional sound, but it’s not even possible, it’s just a fact that it is unpolished.
Debuting an album is a huge deal, and the work required to achieve it should be applauded. The courage to put yourself out there as an artist is fucking terrifying and in a sense I hate that I am that person who’s shitting all over it. But the reality is the only thing I like about King Woman is their name. This is an over-saturated market, and one that is blossoming with tremendous talent that transports you to a different place. In order to break into the scene and leave a mark they have to discover and embrace their own unique sound, because there is nothing unique about this album.
Least favorite track “Worn.” Say ‘break the bread’ one more time and see what happens.
Grab your copy from Relapse Records on CD or vinyl.