King Woman – In the Image of Suffering

So this is the hyped up debut album from King Woman, the band fronted by Kristina Esfandiari after leaving Whirr. Bringing shoegaze and doom metal together they’ve been getting rave reviews across the board for this for the supposedly melancholic combination of stoner doom metal, and shoegaze. It’s even been compared to Subrosa (one of my favourite doom bands of all time) which had me really excited – so imagine my disappointment on hearing Created In the Image of Suffering – a terrible example of stoner doom, a worse example of shoegaze, and thrown together it’s one of the weakest excuses for a doom metal release I’ve ever heard. Created In the Image of Suffering? That name is about all they’ve got right. 

Lets not differentiate between songs as they’re similar in sound, some just dragged out longer than others, and have some gimmicky chants or country style acoustic parts in the intros or midsection. What we have here is pretty much just weak distorted riffs, either following a simple chord pattern or chugging along, and (far too many) boring quieter acoustic sections. That’s all you get. Every song. There isn’t a memorable riff on the album, there’s no meat to the production, just a bit of distortion. But despite not being heavy it doesn’t even sound overly clean, it’s just a terrible production job all around, the bass isn’t loud enough to come through the mix and add any oomph to proceedings, and the drum sound is unbearably obnoxious. Tinny and weak, but too loud in the mix, not to mention the complete lack of ideas, just slow obnoxious plodding. Lars Ulrich hammering away would be an improvement here.

But none of that is even the worst part. The vocals are absolutely horrendous to the point of unlistenable. Effect laden to the point of undecipherable (literally the only part of the whole album that is in any-way related to shoegaze by the way) but with some low pitched moany and mumbing drawl. It sounds completely lacking in effort let alone emotion, yet is being touted as being one of the hardest hitting melancholic albums of the year. Sometimes there’s two vocal lines over each other, sometimes not, and there you have the entirety of Esfandiari’s repertoire. It sounds awful, it doesn’t even seem to fit with the music, just separate and annoying vocalisations that make you long for the boring instrumental only sections.

How this has been getting hyped so much is beyond me. It’s not just boring, it’s actually horrible to listen to. If you want female fronted stoner doom there are dozens and dozens of superior bands you should be checking out (Subrosa, Messa, Mount Salem and Acid King just for starters) and avoiding this like a plague. Derivative, weak hipster bullshit.

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