Christian Mistress Agony & Opium

On debut album Agony & Opium, Olympia, WA's Christian Mistress declare they're not another throwback brigade trying to revive the corpse of seminal riff metal. Upon initial listen, that assertion seems laughable. The abundance of stock riffs pulled from requisite hard'n'heavy influences says otherwise: Motörhead's primordial, blues-influenced grind, some Killers-era Iron Maiden-ish duelling guitars, with the slightest tinge of proto-punk twang, Sabbath's lyrical mysticism and even a touch of late '80s Doro Pesch crossed with Grace Slick's haunting croon from the vocalist. Toss in a generally upbeat vibe akin to Thin Lizzy's best and Agony & Opium has a rather invigorating take on some well-worn grooves in the aggressive music highway. Somehow, even with its incredibly modest production values, there's enough of a spark to give some validity to Christian Mistress's assertion. It lacks much in the way of cutting edge creativity, but Agony & Opium is performed with enough sincerity to generate a few repeat listens for the sheer fun of rocking abandon. (20 Buck Spin)