I wish more hard-rock bands played with the fervor and aggression of heavy Chicago two-piece Djunah. The duo’s music blazes with such bracing intensity that I’d half expect a vinyl copy of their 2019 album, Ex Voto, to scorch my fingers. Front woman Donna Diane delivers much of the band’s power, in part because she creates so much of their sound. She sings, she plays guitar, and she uses her right foot to operate a Moog Minitaur synth bass via a Roland PK-5A MIDI pedal controller—and seeing her do it all at once adds to Djunah’s already striking live performances.
These days, Djunah is rounded out by drummer Jared Karns of Hidden Hospitals and Their/They’re/There, who also appears on the band’s new self-released album, Femina Furens. Diane roots the album in a series of her poems, which incorporate allusions to poets Sylvia Plath and John Donne and take inspiration from Greek and Egyptian myths. In the middle of writing these allegorical pieces, she was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), which further influenced their tone and shape. When Djunah launched preorders of Femina Furens, they made two different limited-edition vinyl sets that included chapbooks of Diane’s poems. Both have already sold out, but you don’t need the chapbook (or a master’s degree) to understand Femina Furens: Djunah’s controlled ferociousness ensures that even the album’s nuanced points about autonomy and feminine power come to the fore. Knockout single “Seven Winds of Sekhmet” invokes an Egyptian war goddess who could heal anything, and when Diane’s mighty bellow cracks into a snarl to match its razor-blade guitars, she sounds like she has the same power.
Djunah Huntsmen open. Fri 3/24, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, $10, 21+