What started as Kristina Esfandiari’s solo project in 2009, King Woman, is now a fully formed band. Doubt is a particularly heavy record for King Woman, both emotionally and musically. Displaying hulking doom-laden rock with shoegaze and psychedelic influences, this EP shows how much Kristina Esfandiari has come into her own, after building confidence while touring with Whirr and working on her other project, Miserable.
The EP starts off slowly with ‘Wrong’. The guitars are layered, building on top of each other to create a rich, enveloping sound, which continues throughout all four tracks. Compared to other King Woman and Miserable releases, this is by far the darkest both emotionally and musically, and there is a newfound fullness to the sound, most likely due to the addition of Colin Gallagher, Sky Madden, and Joey Raygoza. Gallagher in particular is incredibly talented when it comes to writing these amazingly dark, droning guitar riffs. Madden’s bass adds depth and structure, and Raygoza’s drumming is minimal and controlled, which folds in well with Esfandiari’s sonorous voice. Not only has the addition of a full band helped King Woman’s sound grow, but it’s clear that Esfandiari has really come into her own as a vocalist and songwriter.
I have always loved music that invokes a strong emotional response from me, but I was in no way prepared for what this brought out. The sincerity and pure emotion that is portrayed throughout this album is incredibly overwhelming. To explain what I felt, I would be explaining the sensation of being heartbroken: the actual, physical ache brought on by a deep sadness. If you have experienced that before, you will understand the magnitude of the reaction I endured. ‘King of Swords’ hit me particularly hard. A song named after the tarot card representing clear thinking, authority, and truth… but when reversed, it represents manipulation, tyranny, and abuse – all of which are tied into the theme of this album, and provides a bleak comparison to Esfandiari’s experiences growing up in an abusive church environment. This album is a definitive example of turning your traumatic experiences into something healing, for yourself and others.
While brief in duration, Doubt still manages to whittle away at your emotions, and leaves you a husk of a human being. It is a tremendously powerful EP, one that has left me eagerly waiting for more.