Within the overcrowded “female-fronted occult rock” subgenre, Ides of Gemini distinguishes itself by not stealing Black Sabbath riffs from the 70’s. Their music has always had a more sombre quality, leaning toward the gothic side of doom, while simultaneously not sucking. One of my biggest regrets at Psycho Fest was missing their set last summer… although I’m pretty sure there was a pretty sweet band playing at the same time. (Not gonna have that problem this year—but I digress.)
Women is the third album from this L.A. outfit, which has gone from a trio to a quartet in the process. While Ides was previously two-thirds female, their latest promo portraits show three dudes in matching Ramones leather jackets behind singer Sera Timms. Technically speaking, the band has just one woman now, but the album takes its name from the fact that each track deals with a female subject.
“Mother Kiev” opens the album on a haunting, mid-tempo note, a jagged, jangly guitar riff resonating over pounding percussion. The soaring vocals on the chorus capture the mood perfectly. “The Rose” has a bit more of a doomy edge, along the lines of Type O Negative, while “The Dancer” offers up some sickly sweet vocals about a nice crunchy doom riff.
“Heroine’s Descent,” while starting off on a mellower note, eventually digs in deep with an anguished vocal and a deceptively devastating clean guitar riff. “Swan Diver” might be the closest they come to sounding like Candlemass, particularly in the guitar department, and as such, it’s one of my preferred tracks. “Zohra,” meanwhile, comes off as sort of a cross between Neurosis and Iron Maiden… picture the former’s tribal drumbeats and gloomy atmospherics with a few “Whoa-oh-ohs” thrown in for good measure.
(I’ll give you a moment to process that one.)
Available April 28, 2017, via Rise Above Records.