Priestess, 'Prior to the Fire' (Tee Pee)

8
Prior to the Fire
Critical Mass
Label: Tee Pee

by David Marchese

After 2006's acclaimed debut, Hello Master, this Montreal metal foursome had to cut through a mass of red tape before Fire, their long-gestating follow-up, could get a U.S. release date. Someone should be fired for the delay, because this baby burns. Whether it's galloping epics ("The Gem") or thrashy revenge fantasies ("Ladykiller"), the band proves awesomely adeptat casting a multitude of dark spells. But singer- guitarist Mikey Heppner is also tough enough to let rays of melody shine through the gloom ("Sideways Attack").

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