HUNTRESS – Spell Eater

HUNTRESS is an American, California-based, Heavy Metal band, formed in 2009 by vocalist Jill Janus and ex-members of PROFESSOR, DARK BLACK and SKELETONWITCH. In late 2011 the band signed with Napalm Records, who released the debut album, “Spell Eater”, on the 27th April 2012. The release contains ten powerful and catchy Heavy Metal tracks with a dark background. The cover art for this album was handled by Vance Kelly (DOWN, THE SWORD) in order to be inline with the lyrical context of occult practices and related.

It begins with the title track and the direct outburst of Heavy Metal with a Black Metal touch in the riffing. What follows is raging Metal, Speed Metal you might even call it. Add rough vocals, or cleans with a raw edge, and you can draw comparisons with BENEDICTUM. But clearly this song has got balls! The singing is fully clean, including high notes, in the chorus. The music takes on a more aggressive stance as well there. As is custom with Heavy Metal: solo. No complaints here. The song ends with a nice and easy outro, so to speak, gradually finishing the song while the vocals are now mere whispering… witch-style. A great song to begin with!

Next is “Senicide”, which also takes a direct start, though in a building manner before the song really takes off with midtempo, groovy Metal, which isn’t less powerful. Jill’s vocals follow that pattern in a screamy way. The pounding bridge is where the screaming is replaced by whispering, again in that witch-like style. The chorus, on the other hand, is melodic, quite epic even and has full vocals. The guitarwork stands out, so does the solo. But on a whole, this is another high-quality song. It rocks indeed!

In “Sleep And Death” the band takes a more chillin’ approach, not as wild as the previous tracks, I mean. The song’s got a Bluesy influence, but is also quite dark. The drums are a key element here. In the bridge Jill’s witch-like voice is comparable to how Chuck Schuldiner (DEATh, CONTROL DENIED) used to scream, while the melodic chorus features normal singing (incl. high notes). The guitar solo is set before halfway, but sounds rather short and functional. There’s a second one a little later and also longer, during which the rhythmic backing is different from before. Once that is done, a higher gear is chose and the music then sounds firmer. And this concludes the third highlight.

“Snow Witch” is the first less good or less attractive song, in my opinion. Following the lyrical context, the music is scary, dark and there’s danger ahead. The verses are slow, but the fast outbreak is for the chorus where clean vocals dominate first, then are replaced by Jill’s witch voice (poisonous, venomous). At certain moments, she can get rough, too. All in all not bad, but not as super as the previous songs. Then comes the übercatchy “Eight Of Swords” with a powerful and aggressive start, building towards… fast, pounding, raging, screaming Metal. Aggressive verses demand aggressive vocals, while a more melodic chorus has both aggressive and clean singing… and sounds catchy! There are solos too, split by the returning theme from the intro. Another great track.

We’re halfway now and the second half, again in my (humble) opinion, consists of 2 strong songs and 3 good songs, but they too just don’t hold my interest as much as the others. Let’s begin with those. First of all “Aradia”. This track kicks in instantly, offering midtempo melodic Heavy Metal, but with yelling vocals. The chorus is slower, still melodic and the yelling just is annoying. the whispers in the back serve to make the lyrical context more alive. Venomouos laughter at the end reminds of the first song, “Spell Eater”. “Night Rape” sets in with a heavily grooving guitar and as the intro grows, the speed and raging increases and it’s as if the egg shell is about to burst open and the face hugger to jump out. Musically and vocally the verses are firm and powerful, so is the chorus. But when Jill hits those high notes (you could call it yelling), that’s when I feel like skipping the song. Seriously. The music is good, though. Last, there’s “The Tower”, the last track on this album. The music comes fading in and continues ina straight-forward manner with fierce vocals. Nothing bad, but nothing super either.

That leaves two highlights: “Children” and “Terror”. “Children” is a simple song, to the point and begins with the bass (that’s nice for a change) in MOTÖRHEAD-style and then the raging Metal (also to be found in previous songs) breaks loose. Jill sounds furious here. In the pounding, melodic chorus, her voice turns demonical. “Terror” clearly indicates there’s danger brewing. Uptempo Heavy Metal is the chosen way and it’s catchy! The solo is set at the end, with slow backing music. The yelling, however, is annoying. Sorry.

Female-fronted Heavy Metal, a new band steps up: HUNTRESS. This debut release, “Spell Eater”, is all things considered a very nice acquaintance with their music. It’s comparable to, for example, BENEDICTUM, HELSTAR and similar. Most of the songs are catchy and will do very good live. Nice atmosphere too here and there, making the songs more lively. Except for the high vocal notes… not really attractive.

 

Tracklist:

  1. Spell Eater
  2. Senicide
  3. Sleep And Death
  4. Snow Witch
  5. Eight Of Swords
  6. Aradia
  7. Night Rape
  8. Children
  9. Terror
  10. The Tower

 

Line-up:
Jill Janus – vocals
Blake Meahl – guitar
Ian Alden – guitar
Eric Harris – bass
Carl Wierzbicky – drums