One quick search for Religious To Damn, and you will find them perpetually being described as "gypsy-rock", or "gypsy-sych", or indeed any other moniker that seems to pay shallow homage to front-woman Zohra Atash's heritage. Don't let this fool you though; the whole "gypsy" thing should not be taken at face value. What Religious to Damn have produced with their LP, Glass Prayer, is much deeper and darker than labels like that suggest, and there's an enviable class with which the album is carried off that belies any obvious pigeon-holing.

Opener 'To Love the Machine' sets the scene for what is to come, where Atash's beautiful, encapsulating vocals swim over the top of an ethereal atmosphere of shimmering cymbals and pulsating guitars, as if awaiting the relentless drums of follow up track 'Drifter'. Again, this is a song that seems effortlessly melodic; the call-and-response of the main vocal and accompanying harmonies seem to, in part, point towards Fleetwood Mac- style extravagance, and yet still managed to remain understated.

In learning about the American-Afghanistan background of Atash, there's perhaps a presumption of some more worldly influences, and whilst these moments are rare, they are tasteful when used - on tracks such as 'Black Sand', and 'The Bell'- and they manage to remain accessible, feeling like a part of the album, rather than sticking out like an overtly high-brow sore thumb.

Easily the most fulfilling elements of Glass Prayer, though, are the fantastic melodies which flow throughout, achingly haunting and perfectly allied to the gothic soundscape that they so often transcend. The title track is a perfect representation of this; whilst its tribal drum intro seems oddly (and no doubt accidentally) reminiscent of a certain Spinal Tap track about ladies backsides, the way in which the main vocals interact with the bass guitar and synths seem to leave a haunting, ghostly air, that remains long after the track has finished.

Perhaps the one criticism of the album would be that it occasionally feels chastened, as if it's pushing to get out of 4th gear and really take you by the throat. 'Terra' certainly threatens to do this, and for moments, it feels like it will, but somehow it never quite reaches that pinnacle, fading away to a slightly unfulfilling end.

There's a point to which this doesn't matter though; albums like this aren't meant for that, they're meant to carry you away on the wings of the effervescent lead vocals, and there's no doubt that Religious to Damn have nailed it on that front. Under what circumstance you would choose to listen to an album like this, I'm not entirely sure, but I imagine closing your eyes and just allowing it to take you away of its own accord would be a good start - as long as you're not too afraid of where you'll end up.

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