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The best kept secret in music


"Hello Master"

I'd almost lost hope that anyone actually knew how to write a proper rock'n'roll record, something too dangerous to be used in a Gap commercial, something that by definition doesn't require you to be baked, fried and/or microwaved to appreciate it, something that knows the story of rock but doesn't attempt to pass it off as its own. That something is Priestess, and man, are they something. Montreal hasn't heard a straight-ahead, metal-edged, monstrous melodic rock band like this, well, ever. Actually, that's not true: Bionic, version 1.0, bore a lot of similarities in terms of overall hooky hugeness, and Priestess roll out similar steel on their debut, Hello Master. Singer Mikey Heppner is eight feet tall here, and the sound as a whole is similarly gigantesque, aided in no small part by the high-stature production attentions of (former Me, Mom & Morgentaler frontman) Gus Van Go, who also brought us The Stills. Hello Master - solid the whole way through with far too many stand-out tracks to list - reminds me of some of the best of Motörhead, Monster Magnet and AC/DC, three of my all-time faves, and three who haven't recently come close to touching what Priestess have achieved with this release. And so it begins.

4,5 stars on 5 - JAmie O'Meara -

"She's got balls."

Each time we enter a new year, furiously tallying the best-ofs, worst-ofs, and no-shows of the previous, I consider mentioning an album that wins for best straight-ahead dashboard rattle. There' always a volume-up-windows-down killer that seems to get knocked out of people's top tens by the MARS VOLTAs and MASTODONS of the world. As you probably have guessed by now, this PRIESTESS disc is my pick.

Once you get past the cool name, (reminds me of classics like SISTER and GIRL) and cool digipack, you're greeted with a collection of twelve air-guitar anthems that easily eclipse FIREBALL MINISTRY, DIAMOND NIGHTS and the entire Small Stone catalog.

Fans of THE CULT or LEADFOOT will drool over Mike Heppner's vocal grit, as well as the simple grooves and occasional guitar harmonies that peek out of "Lay Down"' and "Two Kids". "Run Home" flaunts partyin' riffs a la "High & Dry" while leads wrangle left and right, like MOLLY HATCHET huffin' paint thinner. But even if the first few tracks fail to raise your pulse, by track five you're a goner. The glossy chorus of "Talk to Her" is pure, wicked butt-shaking lasciviousness that no fan of the rock can withstand. I defy you to try! It reminds me of 80s Bob Rock production before he lost all credibility in the world of music.

Lyrically, things are dark on the surface, particularly in the aforementioned "Two Kids", but there seem to be glimmers of hope lurking elsewhere. It's tempting to take "No Real Pain" at face value ("I've been dwelling in the ditch for years / but I can't complain / 'cause there's no real pain"), but my tongue-in-cheek-ometer seems to be going off. But just when you think it's all about darkness and death, "The Shakes" blows the bell curve with a simple ode to a loved one in the lyrical vein of ZEP's "Thank You" (but musically sounding quite simi liar to NWOBHM gods GASKIN!), hinting that these Canadians have brains to go with the bombast.

4,5 out of 5 - Peacedogman -

"Priestess - Hello Master"

The Montreal four-piece Priestess are ready to dish out something that hasn’t been seen in quite a while - full-blasting arena metal. Metal reached dizzying heights back in the 1980s before turning the edgy rock of their forefathers Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin into something of a joke that revolved more around big hair and blondes in wet t-shirts than music. While bands like Poison and Motley Crue made mistakes and threatened to destroy the genre forever, Priestess is looking to right those wrongs and bring the heavy side of rock back to the mainstream.

Bring metal back from the underground dungeon-like basements where it has been lurking isn’t an easy thing, but this quartet proves their up to the challenge early on in their disc with the sonically heavy “Lay Down”. It’s a mass of ripping power chords that lays out exactly what these guys are capable of which, just happens to be everything! Even slower songs (nothing you could call a ballad though) don’t trip up Priestess. The weariness of the aching revenge song “Time Will Cut You Down” comes shining through, but there’s nothing sissy about it. The powerful lone wolf vocals of lead singer/guitarist Mikey Heppner wail out over a staccato drum beat that whips the song along like steamy desert winds.

And if that wasn’t enough, these guys also prove to be deft songwriters and players. Priestess is a powerful band, but they keep their energy channeled. It never takes over to the point where they get sloppy. Instead, they emerge as one of the most primal music forces to appear on the scene in a long time. They handle women as sensitively as a band like this can on the urgent pounding song “Talk to Her” and even manage to pull off the more pop rock sound of their closer “Blood”. Just listen to the drums and guitars work together on this one and you’ll hear what most bands aspire to sound like.

Hello Master is sure to have many followers lining up to serve these heavy metal rejuvenators.

8/10 - Amy Wagner -

"Disc of the week"

Hello Master (Indica/Outside)

Priestess has been earning quite the buzz around town, and with the wallop of this debut, they prove that big things are in store. Gas-guzzlin’ rock gets tangled up with some serious songwriting, but it’s Mikey Heppner’s Danzig-esque howl that every song hangs its hat on. Knowing not to blow a good thing (the vocals), Priestess leave a lot of space for guitar solos and let the freedom sound of the cowbell clang righteously. Songs like “I Am the Night, Colour Me Black” and “Two Kids” can easily duke it out on the radio dial. With irony corroding rock ’n’ roll lately, it’s nice to hear it getting back to pure sweat and blood again.

(Johnson Cummins) - Johnson Cummins -


Priestess - Hello Master
Lay Down and Run Home : radio airplay


Feeling a bit camera shy



Priestess. Now there’s a heavy name.

You’ve got an image in your head, and it’s mistaken. You’ve heard the name Priestess, and you’re juggling impressions. Are they Goths, prancing around the pentangle in their Lugosi capes? I think not. Could this be…Christian rock? God, no. Just another gang of suburban riff-clowns raised on a sallow junk-food diet of hair bands? None of the above. Cue up the Montreal band’s debut, Hello Master, and let us demystify. Metal? No …Priestess is Heavy Mettle… And they do inspire devotion.

“It feels like we hit it off with people who wanna hear a heavy rock group with catchy songs,” says singer/guitarist Mikey Heppner. And, hello …master of understatement. Heppner’s a bantam dynamo whose unaffected approach is the face of a like-minded band. No stylist, no shtick, no pose – without gimmick, they fire maddeningly memorable and crunching hooks out to an audience that travels under no banner.

“Ordinary kids,” says Heppner. That sliver of rock fans somewhere between the hard rock, garage and indie tribes - you know, that 70% sliver. Priestess finds a commonality between those nerds, jocks, stoners, loners, party kids and hipsters for whom rock’n’roll is somewhere between soundtrack and salvation.

Formed in Montreal in 2003 with a desire to rewire a balls-out ‘70s rock ethic with classicist songwriting, they defiantly refused to equate heavy music with the Big Downer. “Some bands are gloomy – because that’s the only way to be cool.”

Here’s the other way: rejoicing in heaviosity, with the accent on both ends. In their time as rock’n’roll redeemers, Priestess has run through everything from the Beatles to prog to punk to Nirvana and back to AC/DC. “One of the hardest things to do is take a major-chord chorus and make it cool and heavy,” Heppner says. “AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long is in a major-chord - super-happy key. But it’s unstoppable and I can listen to it every day…forever.”

In the lean and punishing I Am the Night, Color Me Black, in the canyon-sized Talk To Her, the snarling Lay Down and an instant classic called Two Kids, they have already written four chapters in their own new testament.

“There is a level that we… must get to,” Heppner says of the band’s live show. Anyone who’s heard Heppner’s opening shout “We are Priestess and we are going to fuck you!” knows what that means. It’s no surprise that they caught the attention of Motorhead, opening for them on their last tour …Lemmy practically wrote the book on fucking the crowd up. Then, three triumphant shows at SXSW ’06 capped a “crushingly great” 6 1/2 week tour with fellow crushers Early Man and The Sword that found the band breaking out of major markets into places like Buffalo – where ordinary kids who couldn’t care less about the Montreal resurgence were moved to seize Heppner from the stage and send him crowd-surfing, mid-solo. They were believers.’

So back to that name: “The minute we tossed it out there, we knew it was perfect.”

Why? Think about it. Rather than playing to a herd of headbangers hurling themselves at the stage while their girlfriends cower at tables in the dark corners, Priestess wants to cross the most elemental human divide: gender. “Zeppelin sort of had a mystical pagan allure in the context of heavy, distorted guitars,” Heppner says. He finds in that a balance of undeniable masculine heft and feminine melody. “We get a lot of girls in the crowd. That’s very important.”

They are Priestess. The cult starts here.