I had basically no reason to dislike this album going in. I was looking forward to it, in fact. I enjoyed King Woman’s debut EP Doubt and vocalist Kristina Esfandiari’s solo work under the Miserable moniker, and, while I can’t say that Created in the Image of Suffering is downright disappointing, it certainly isn’t without its flaws.
My biggest problem with it are the first three songs, “Utopia”, “Deny” and “Shame”. They are just kind of unimpressive and forgettable, to the point that they feel almost like filler. They even sound samey to some extent, using what seems to be King Woman’s basic formula of droning instrumentation with Kristina’s admittedly impressive vocals on top of that. The standout aspect of the album are undoubtedly the powerful and expressive, yet seemingly fragile vocals, which successfully keep the album away from being completely forgettable. The instrumentation is fine, albeit not to speak of. It reminds me of Sleep, which wouldn’t be so bad if 90% of all stoner rock bands didn’t remind me of Sleep. However, we aren’t dealing with incompetence here on the part of the band. Instrumentally, the album isn’t noticeably bad, it’s just kind of bland.
“Hierophant” is the centerpiece of the album and its best song by far. It leaves an impact on the listener that outshines the rest of the album and it is practically the only reason to come back to the album for one more listen. “Worn”, “Manna” and “Hem” are good and they certainly are better than the first three songs, but aren’t as strong as „Hierophant”and left me wanting more. That is partially a good thing, though at the end of it all I felt that the album lacked closure.
While the album is not amazing, the good outweighs the bad and I could see how someone maybe newer to the genre could really get excited about this album. I’m still eager to see what King Woman will come up with next.