King Woman
Created In The Image of Suffering
(Relapse Records)

Created In The Image of Suffering is not only the debut record of Bay Area doom outfit King Woman, but a prime example of effective musicianship in creating aura and emotion. From the beginning there is a distortion that flutters and slams down upon the listener’s ear. This idea plays into the conflicting and aching atmosphere found in the instrumentals, vocals, and lyrics. While that distortion drones on, the album still finds plenty of room to add multiple elements of melody, tones, and depth. King Woman proves here their understanding of the sounds at play, and how to manipulate them to outstanding material.

Taking the genres of doom and shoegaze to effectively set the overall themes of pain and suffering within each song, the work comes to the forefront with power to bring shivers and weight. “Utopia” brings in a thick droning wave that shifts back and forth with the vocals. The track’s use of creating distance vocally to establish a sense of hopelessness and yearning, is just one of the excellent examples of how the band helps to create aura. It wouldn’t be fair to say that the instrumentals work to amplify the vocals, or vice versa, but that together they create the overall form of the message. The lyrics seeped in desperation and longing, claw and rip at heartstrings. Lines in songs like “Deny” that call out with: “Jesus I love you/ With all my heart/ But I feel like an angel/ I’m lacking the star/ I’m lacking the spirit/ I’m losing the heart/ I’m lacking the spirit,” are just but a small example of superb and poetic lyricism applied in every track.

“Shame” starts with a deep distortion, climbing its way up with a slow clashing of drums. It eventually simmers out, ending on a somber note. All the songs have their own uniqueness to them, and while they may share certain elements, never clash with one another. Of all these tracks, “Hierophant” is absolutely one of the more brilliant titles on the record. While there is use of distortion, it finds itself tucked away in the corners, and instead uses a much more lean and forward melody. Still somber in essence, “Hierophant” comes off as beautiful, bright, and even hopeful. It is one of those incredible moments when art is able to reflect a duality of emotion and meaning. It has a forward approach, but through those means it brings out something larger within itself.

Created In The Image of Suffering is a title that rings close to the work found within it. For a debut, King Woman have successfully released a terrific album to be proud of. Instrumentals, vocals, and lyrics all come together in bringing the listener into the story, holding them in the stillness of darkness. This is pure poetry and music that is able to grab one by the soul. In all its mystic, dark, and haunting auras, Created In The Image of Suffering is truly a gift of art.

Purchase the album here.

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