With the extended winning streak enjoyed by Queens of the Stone Age to start the '00s, underground heavy rock with '70s roots enjoyed its biggest revival since the mid-'90s stoner rock movement spearheaded by Kyuss, Monster Magnet, and Fu Manchu, resulting in numerous signings of promising young bands by even the major labels -- e.g. Australian trio Wolfmother by Interscope, and Canadian quartet Priestess by RCA. Unfortunately, as had been the case a decade earlier, critical and commercial success stories amongst this new breed of bands proved frustratingly elusive, and unlike the uniquely blessed Wolfmother, Priestess' rock-solid (forgive the pun) debut, Hello Master, would ultimately join similarly promising efforts by Valient Thorr, Sasquatch, and the Illuminati (to name but a few) on the scrap heap of relative sales failure. Originally released in late 2005 through Canadian indie Ace Fu Records before being picked up for U.S. distribution the following year by the aforementioned RCA, Hello Master made an instantly tantalizing first impression thanks to its striking cover art, evocative of the 1976 classic, Rainbow Rising; but beneath this show of historical respect, the album's disciplined power grooves could hardly be dismissed as retro, such was the tight, controlled ferocity with which its songs were produced. The high-speed assault of opening barnstormer "I Am the Night, Colour Me Black" was in fact the exception to the rule (only to be replicated much later on "Everything That You Are" and a couple of late-album leftovers), since other memorable offerings like "Lay Down," "Run Home," and "Talk to Her" exerted a far more measured, impressively balanced combination of riff muscle and melodic sinew, approximating a modern take on Thin Lizzy, not unlike Priestess' Canadian compatriots Danko Jones. There's also an inescapable, but comparatively subtle AC/DC undercurrent permeating tunes like "The Shakes," "Performance," and the slow-burning blues-breaker "Time Will Cut You Down," similar to what New Orleans' Supagroup had been simultaneously attempting to revive with equally fruitless commercial results. All of which just goes to show that, for all of the momentary hip factor blessed upon these new millennium hard rockers by the Pitchforks of the world, post-QOTSA (see Priestess' own lame attempt at replicating that band's new wave dance rock with embarrassing closer "Blood"), mainstream opportunities for groups of this aggressive ilk were still quite limited. And although it was easily one of the best hard rock records of 2006, by most any definition (quality songwriting topping the list), Priestess categorically missed their shot at stardom with Hello Master, spelling their return to indie label status a few years later.
|Label:||Red Int / Red Ink|