Prior to the Fire

comment
Prior to the Fire
Composer: Priestess
Conductor: Priestess
Label: Tee Pee
Release Date: 2010-02-17
Rated: NONE
Genre: Recording

Subtlety is a term not often applied to heavy music, but it is central to Montreal’s Priestess. While Prior to the Fire has plenty of power and aggression, they are always applied with a deft touch, used more as layers and shading than as whitewash. “Ladykiller” launches the album with an assault of drums and chugging chords, and maintains a balls-out rocking stance — yet it throws in a few flourishes that belie the band’s otherwise pure retro power-rock. Syncopation breaks up the battle-ready rhythmic punch, while the lead guitar breaks formation to engage in surprisingly melodic turns reminiscent of both Thin Lizzy and prog-rock’s technical trickery.

These more restrained elements dominate “Murphy’s Law,” whose gentility and strident melodicism would feel out of place on most metal records but seem right at home between the slow-burning, low-slung menace of “The Firebird” and the epic sprawl of “The Gem.” The latter does a fine job of incorporating Priestess’s full bag of tricks — propulsive drumming, emphatic power-chord locomotion, rhythmic flexibility, and a melodic sensibility that borders on beauty. Aggression can be beautiful and subtlety intimidating if you’re willing to explore the boundaries and commonalities between them. Priestess does that admirably. — Nicholas Hall

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.