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Bow Your Head and Listen to King Woman's Transcendental New Album

Kristina Esfandiari's intoxicating voice guides 'Created In The Image of Suffering,' the shoegaze/drone/doom outfit's Relapse debut

King Woman's Relapse debut, Created In The Image of Suffering, follows their game-changing 2014 EP, Doubt (a Noisey fave), and is due out quite soon—February 24, to be exact. The Bay Area-turned-Brooklyn outfit is comprised of vocalist Kristina Esfandiari, guitarist Colin Gallagher, drummer Joey Raygoza, and bassist Peter Arensdorf, and signed to Relapse on the strength of a single release, which I described then as "beautiful, and unnerving, and utterly essential listening."


And somehow, the band's first full-length album is even better. The digital version opens with "Citios," a bonus track manifested as cloudy feedback loop, the album title repeated like a mantra—or a prayer. In its more corporeal form, Created In The Image of Suffering kicks off with "Utopia," launching straight into the indefinable, alluring sound that's made King Woman so beloved in such a relatively short time. It's a romantic concoction of shoegaze, doom, post-metal, textured noise, drone, and wave upon wave of dreamy distortion, often obscuring its focal point—Esfandiari—in a smear of fog as grey and imposing as her native San Francisco.

That voice—previously heard in Whirr, and currently moonlighting in another project, Miserable—has an intriguing depth to it, whether she's employing a powerful rasp, a throaty moan, or a more delicate, pillowy croon. Esfandiari's elastic pipes retain a sort of nacroleptic, transcendental quality, swirling up thoughts of opium dens and bad trips even as choral-dappled tracks like "Manna" feel steeped in ornate religiosity—a kyrie for the abyss. The latter (heard on "Citios" as well as in the inclusion of an unsettling church hymn at the very end of album closer "Hem") feels like a nod to her own deep spirituality, and the years of religious torment that funneled energy into the creation of King Woman itself. The album title, Created In The Image of Suffering, is no joke; Esfandiari has lived through hell, and came out swinging a microphone cord.

We're streaming it in full below, and you can preorder the album from Relapse (or directly from the band). Bow your head, and listen.

02/17: Oakland, CA @ Starline Social Club  
02/18: Olympia, WA @ Obsidian 
02/19: Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar 
02/24: Sacramento, CA @ Starlite Lounge
02/26: Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
03/14: Brooklyn, NY @ St Vitus
03/15: Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts *
03/16: Washington, DC @ DC9 *
03/17: Asheville, NC @ Mothlight *
03/18: Nashville, TN @ The End *
03/19: Orlando, FL @ Backbooth *
03/20: Atlanta, GA @ The Earl *
03/22: Dallas, TX @ Three Links *
03/23: Houston, TX @ Walter's *
03/24: Austin, TX @ Sidewinder *
04/08: Linz, AT @ Kapu ^
04/09: Vienna, AT @ Arena ^
04/10: Leipzig, DE @ Felsenkeller ^
04/11: Berlin, DE @ Musik & Frieden ^
04/12: Dresden, DE @ Beatpol ^
04/14: Antwerp, BE @ Het Bos ^
04/15: Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club ^
04/16: Glasgow, UK @ Saint Luke's &
04/17: Manchester, UK @ Gorilla &
04/18: London, UK @ Heaven &
04/19: Brighton, UK @ The Haunt &
04/20: Lille, FR @ La Malterie ^
04/21: Tilburg, Netherlands @ Roadburn ^
04/23: Karlsruhe, DE @ Dude fest ^
04/24: Lyon, FR @ Le Periscope ^
04/25: Nantes, FR @ Le Ferraileur ^
04/26: Paris, FR @ L'Espace B ^
04/27: Brussels, BE @ VK ^ 
04/28: Groningen, NL @ Vera ^
* w/ Oathbreaker & Jaye Jayle 
^  w/ True Widow 
& w/ True Widow and Chelsea Wolfe

Kim Kelly is chasing utopia on Twitter. Photo by Rob Williamson