Best known for its progressive groups like Arcade Fire and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Montreal's music scene isn't considered a hotbed of hard-rock roguery, but that doesn't seem to bother Priestess. Their new album, Hello Master, is cut from the same cloth as '70s proto-metal groups like Motörhead or mid-period Black Sabbath—just cleaned up a bit. From the hammering two-note barrage of opener, "I Am the Night, Colour Me Black," it's clear that Priestess are hell-bent on taking hard rock back to its basest elements: riffs, hooks, and sweat.

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What can often go wrong when bands soften hard rock is the ironic glamorization of the hesher. Heshers were never cool; cut-off jean vests and Mötley Crüe T-shirts never were and never will be cool. Priestess shrug off any '80s headbanger gimmickry or tongue-in-cheek wardrobe shenanigans à la the Darkness, and proceed to rock. More interesting still, when perusing the band's interviews and philosophy, is Priestess's arms-length attitude toward metal's more serious rituals; they even imply that gloom-and-doom theatrics amount to "selling out." Priestess are just genuinely fun guys who want to make fun music.

And then there's the name. For a genre steeped in masculine energy, the name Priestess might seem oddly sexually ambiguous. On deeper consideration, though, the band's moniker follows a well-worn path paved by groups such as Queen, Thin Lizzy, and Iron Maiden. Singer/guitarist Mikey Heppner alludes to what's likely the real reasoning behind the name, though: "We get lots of girls in the crowd. That's very important."

editor@thestranger.com