Described as “deathrock meets post-punk,” Mystic Priestess are a recent group hailing from Oakland, California, with an old-school shock aesthetic. Part Time Punk Sessions is the latest in a run of three EPs, casting spoopy fun auras over eerie undertones. These six songs easily stay consistent, especially with the soundscapes created from tremolos, keyboards, and a production that engages the listener quite quickly.
The keyboards are less prominent than the guitars but are probably the most captivating. The second half of “Spiny Wings” amps up the intensity following a drum kick, and the piano on this part is steady yet buried. Picture something commonly done with Alice Cooper concept pieces. The faster tunes are obviously where the punk rock backing comes in the strongest, where slower ones rely on creeping build. “Eternal Resurrection” swings the latter, and the bassy waves in the background are rather neat.
On the other hand, it’s a good thing that Part Time Punk Sessions is a quick one, because the humming guitar passages get overbearing at times. Mystic Priestess are obviously very layer-oriented, and the writing is meant to be dug into with a clear mind to find everything that’s been laid out. The vocals are one of the strongest focal points for sure, as they convey so much emotion littered in darkness and sadness. If nothing else, it very much compliments the band’s image. Closer “No Tomorrow, Only Today” is a superb example of all of this, especially with that bouncy rhythm pattern. Their voice casts so much disdain for everything around us in a beefy way, and the ending even lays on a sax to take the leads.
Despite some odd hangups, I really like the idea of this. This band clearly aims to push the aesthetic and struggle of the queer community through super-poetic lyrics, tones, overall appearance, and performance. The music itself is solid, but can be very tough to get into if not in the right mindset. Synths and unconventional instrumentation are the name of the game, and it’s an equal balance between beautiful and unsettling. This is worth hearing at least once for sure.
Part Time Punk Sessions will be released on March 27th, 2020, independently. Pre-order a copy of the limited edition cassette with the purple shell here, or listen to it digitally.