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Lessons in ignoring hype - 14%

EschatonOmega, April 10th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, Napalm Records (Digipak)

Ah, I remember when this album came out. There was an unrelenting media uproar prior to its release, making it virtually impossible to not to be aware of its existence. Numerous ads and interviews built Huntress up to be this colossus that would take the metal community by storm, which is funny considering that three years later they have been forgotten by most people. Of course, it's rare for something to live up to the hype, but "Spell Eater" went the complete other direction; not only not being as good as everybody was saying, but also being one of the worst records I've heard in 2012.

I might as well start off with the most controversial aspect of this record; that being the vocals. They're bad. Plain and simple. Never at any point do they cross the line into being good, or at least alright. They are consistently awful the whole way through. To put it simply, Jill Janus sounds like someone trying to sound like an edgy ultra-badass but failing miserably in the process. Her off key yowling becomes very grating very quickly, more so during her higher notes which have an especially awkward and forced delivery, like a poor King Diamond imitation. Her vocals are also very cold, in that they are without emotion and passion. At times she pumps out some rasping, though these don't sound any better; being so shrill that one can't help but be irritated by them. Worse still is her cackling, which is just embarrassing to listen to.

Alright, so we've established the Janus can't sing for shit. But how's the music itself? Unfortunately, it doesn't fare much better. Now its not nearly as bad as Janus' vocal work, but it leaves a lot to be desired. If you are at all familiar with bare bones, basic heavy metal, you know exactly what this sounds like. It is as generic as it can possibly get. Now it's not an inherently bad thing for a band to be unoriginal, as they don't have to be so to necessarily be good (although it does help) but the absolute lack of thought and effort on "Spell Eater" is almost comical. Riffs are generally bland and predictable, and the drumming fails to excite. The thing is, if it weren't for the vocals, the music wouldn't be terrible. Now it would be generic and boring as hell, but it would at least be alright. Thing is, Janus' voice brings everything down so much, that it sinks the music down from being just alright to being downright awful.

At its core, "Spell Eater" is just another heavy metal album. It is without imagination and creativity, offering nothing to separate it from numerous other generic modern day heavy metal acts. That said, the music isn't horrendous. Its not bad and its not good, its just OK. But the singing makes listening to the album a complete chore. It baffles me as to why the band keeps Jill around, seeing that she can't do her job. Of course, probably the only reason why is because she is an attractive woman who wears clothes that leave very little to the imagine. I'm sure it worked for many horny male listeners initially, but without any substance, it can only get you so far.

What's the big deal? - 72%

Brainded Binky, February 1st, 2015

So what's the big deal with Huntress anyway? A highly popular band that has potential or an extremely overrated band that should get worse press than Five Finger Death Punch? I get that there's some deficiencies involved, but they don't necessarily bring the album to being considered the worst thing since Ronald Reagan, at least not in my opinion. I confess, I might find some of the songs somewhat entertaining, but here's a fact; I'm not going to shower this album with gratuitous praise, 'cos there's certainly not enough for it to even get an 80% rating from me.

First off, Jill Janus' vocals. Okay, I get that they're annoying in some respects, but on her defense, she doesn't do a very bad job when actually singing. It's when she tries to do her metal screams and higher notes, that's where she seems to falter. She has a very powerful alto voice, not unlike Kobra Paige of Kobra and the Lotus. Knowing the songs' dark nature, she should just stop right there. When hitting those high notes, and especially when she screams, it's like she's doing a very cheap imitation of a hamster in a microwave. Now, I wouldn't mind this so much, but she does this ever so often, especially in "Eight of Swords". She also doesn't use a proper singing voice that often, either, she just tries to sound rough and raspy in some parts, and that usually doesn't sound all that great. Don't even get me started on when she "cackles" like a stereotypical witch that you'd see in the movies. She does that a lot on here, especially in "Aradia". She does this so often in there that it gets really pretentious and irritating. Oh, and don't forget the gratuitous whispering that gets mixed over the vocals sometimes. When she tries to do a death metal-style growl, she sounds like she's trying to imitate Angela Gossow, but fails to accurately nail it. These aspects are exactly the reason why she should just stick with just singing normally, then not as many people would hate her. She's just fine when she sings on her own, but she shouldn't press herself to sound like every vocalist who's ever lived.

And now let's talk about the musicianship. Personally, I really don't think it's that bad. It's actually kinda skillful in some areas, such one of the opening riffs of "Senicide" and "Children". I mean, come on, it's not very often in a super-popular band (that isn't Iron Maiden) that uses harmony in their hooks. The only trouble with that one is that it doesn't show up much throughout the song, so it doesn't have as big of an impact as it should. If it did, it would've been a much better song, and I would've given "Spelleater" a much higher rating. It's nice that we get the aggressive riffing to convey a dark atmosphere, but it would've been even darker if the riffs were like the particular one in "Senicide". For the most part, we just get aggressive riffing conveying a dark atmosphere. We all know that a lot of other bands like Mercyful Fate have done the same thing in the past, but when Huntress does it, it just seems a little redundant to some people. Now, don't get me wrong, some of those riffs are kinda catchy (and I may commit the ultimate act of blasphemy by saying that I actually enjoy them), but they don't necessarily mean that they're musical masterpieces, not by a long shot. They're good, but they're not stellar in any way, shape, or form. "Night Rape" is another example of an opening riff done right. It's one of those pivot riffs, and believe me, a pivot riff was something quite unexpected when listening to a much-maligned album. If only they did that riff more often, like in other songs.

So what's up with Huntress? Well, I believe it's due to the fact that Jill Janus isn't the most perfect vocalist in the world. She might have some potential, she just might, but she chooses to shove said potential out of the way in favor of trying to either look edgy, to imitate other vocalists, or both. Whatever the case, I'm not too surprised to hear that people don't like her that much. The musicianship has potential too, but the sheer talent is also eschewed in favor of just making the song dark and edgy. Usually that never yields good results, but Huntress got lucky. They got a deal from Napalm Records and got to tour with bands such as Dragonforce and Arch Enemy. Huntress isn't the very worst I've ever heard, but they're nowhere near being the best. I'll just put it at that.

The worst singing I've ever heard - 12%

PorcupineOfDoom, January 26th, 2015

Yeah, there's a reason this is rated so badly. I realise that now. But hey, Jill Janus was asked to fill in for Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth. I thought that it was worth checking out her band if she was deemed great enough to take on that role, but in all truth I'm just left questioning the management on Amon Amarth's side. Jill's voice is easily the worst part of the band, and I'm tempted to say that she's worse than any other singer I've heard. Seriously, she is that bad. Forget Johan Liiva on a bad day (the whole of Stigmata and Black Earth). Forget whatever you call the vocals in The Great Kat. Forget even the deathcore bands that use pig squeals. This is a whole new level of painful inability to sing.

Sadly, the rest of the band aren't that much better. The riffs are pretty repetitive for the most part and the drumming is none too interesting, just the typical kind of heavy metal bashing that you find with almost every new band. Having said that though, without Jill's presence they could easily have merited a score only slightly below average. The solos are nothing special but are interesting enough to listen to and while the riffs are played countless times too many they at least deliver force enough to provide a base that you'd expect the band to build on. And the drumming is at least consistent and in time.

The sheer lack of originality would be a bad thing if it were possible to kill the mood any further. Coming up with ideas might be difficult, but Huntress really seem desperate to put as little effort into their music as possible. I've heard every part of Spell Eater one too many times before, whether across this album or elsewhere.

A weird thing about this piece of crap is that it's surprisingly well produced. Everything's clean and easily heard, although it never goes overboard. My heart goes out to those that wasted countless hours of their life trying to make this sound good, because it just wasn't meant to be. Shit is shit, it doesn't matter whether it's painted gold or not. At the end of the day, no matter what the producers did Spell Eater couldn't be fixed.

I'll finish the way I started and say that Jill should really just avoid singing. She's way out of her league here and there are so many attractive women in this genre that actually can sing, she's just embarrassing herself. Hearing to her makes me consider listening to bands like Limp Bizkit to numb the pain (which is a very, very bad sign), and I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Fred Durst may actually outclass someone at something.

You Can't Be Serious... - 10%

doomknocker, November 24th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, Napalm Records

When Huntress first came on the scene it was damn-near impossible to not have their name in your face. More so due to the relentless media storm Napalm Records felt necessary to undertake versus anything else, the words "Spell Eater" cascaded from the mountaintops for any and all to be crushed under for a good while. A new metal juggernaut looking to be the next big thing in heavy music...so I've heard, anyway. But in the end this truly did not come to be, and instead we were all treated to a hollow and acidic experience bordering on bitter parody...

What we have here is, by and large, one of the most misguided and ignominiously horrible albums I've ever had the misfortune of hearing. Curse my curiosity and giving in to Napalm's repeated whoring of this collective of failure... The look and sound of Huntress has all the appeal of forty-somethings jamming in a garage for nothing more than shits, giggles and something new to try. I mean, even the band itself looks like a mid-life crisis quintet! But what makes Huntress even worse than that is that there's no sense of class or charm the aforementioned scenario always seems to have; their attempt at bringing the spirit of old guard heavy metal back to the masses has all the depth and value of something from the Dollar Menu. The guitars may have bite, the performance sticks together more often than not, and this may not have been tossed together over a weekend, but "Spell Eater" is really nothing special. Or, really, anything at all. I couldn't think of a single trait that stood out outside of tired musical cliches, predictable arrangements and an increasing urge to find something that would actually "wow" me, as for all the members' apparent skills at their respective instruments it all sounds so disingenuous and, well, fake. It's kind of insulting how this not only came to be but was as hyped as it was, as if the 'tress were meant to be something other than a two-dimensional product group offering so little to the table. There was a fleeting moment where I felt bad for them as a result of this...this may have been the best they could do, and it still fell a few dozen meters short. Nothing matters, no one track is better (or different, really) from the rest, kinda sad...

The band is bad, the music is awful, but at the top of the shit heap, there's Jill Janus. I didn't think I could find a vocalist so abhorrent as to threaten to kick Anette Olzon off the skeletal throne of "Worst Singers I've Ever Heard", but dammit if Jill doesn't try her best to make the seat her own. For whereas Anette has the capacity to sound decent in proper musical context and actually composes herself with a level of decorum, nothing Ms Janus does is good. Not a single thing. Her off-key Halford-aping, post-rawk chick screeches and undignified photo ops make me want to shove my head through a wall, so unnecessary and forced it all comes off as. If anyone ever needed a face to put with the description of "band gimmick", this is it; Huntress could have found any other motherfucker to front them and instead went with an annoying, vapid excuse for a singer with a heroin chic appeal (I'm not kidding on that, either...seeing them live a few years back, Jill stumbled to and fro in dirty jeans looking trashed out of her gourd...I had to leave the venue during their set because of it.). She is easily the worst part of this group, necessitating an entire paragraph denotation to her utter uselessness. Trust me on this if'n you're not familiar.

All in all "Spell Eater" takes every single negative trait in heavy metal and puts them on full display like patches on a denim jacket, "poseur metal" made flesh. Badly written and badly sung, I truly cannot recommend this to anyone, not even the Metal Elite, and the less said about the album and band, the better; there are other acts out there doing this type of sword-and-sorcery classic metal sound proper justice on a musical and aesthetic level without needing to shove a pair of tits in your face. Well, not literally, anyway, for I cannot speak for album art...but yeah. Huntress is the worst. Let's leave it at that.

'Spell Eater' - 50%

Altair 4, April 15th, 2014

The much hyped full-length debut of Huntress, 'Spell Eater', is a decent slab of heavy metal featuring gritty vocalist Jill Janus. My first introduction to the band was their 2013 release 'Starbound Beast', and oddly enough this debut outshines it significantly. This isn't to say that it's without a good number of problems, much of the songwriting seems very middle-of-the-road as far as creativity goes, and the vocals are often annoying. Often times Jill Janus sounds like a cheap Mike Howe (Metal Church) rip-off, and her harsh vocals are frequently amateurish and don't mesh well with the music at all. These kinds of problems are frequent throughout the album, so naming particular offenders would be silly. On the whole though, the production is good, the songwriting is solid enough (if a little boring and uninspired), and there are indeed times when Jill Janus is impressive in her range and emotional conveyance.

The title track, "Eight of Swords", and "Aradia" feature some of the better riffs and vocals. Often chugging and tumbling, the guitars and rhythm section are tight throughout, though there are no prominent or attention-grabbing leads in the album. The lyrical ideas also seem more interesting on this album than what's found on 'Starbound Beast'.

Overall, however, there's simply not enough on this album to justify the purchase and attention. If you want the supreme package of what Huntress is trying to be, then I can recommend Wolf, as their vocalist also is reminiscent of Mike Howe, and their riffs/songwriting are top-of-the-line. While this is a decent, solid release, I can't really recommend it when other contemporary bands are doing the same thing ten times better.

Wasted time and space - 10%

Pratl1971, January 24th, 2013

Every now and again I am left in a state of solemn wonderment as to what I had done so horribly bad that I was left to be so repetitiously tortured by a band's release that crosses my desk. This happens to be one of those moments where I consider jamming rusty, jagged ice picks in my ears to ease the pain of what I just heard and felt he driving need to listen to Ron Keels' country album for 48-hours straight.

Huntress is one of those bands that (somehow) gets a record deal with an attractive front-woman that can't sing but looks the part and assuages the easily-lulled, testosterone-fueled masses into a state of...hell, I don't even know what it is other than typical male sexual frustration. The music on Spell Eater is about as pedestrian, amateurish, lethargic, and downright awful as it gets.

Vocalist Jill Janus, simply put, sings quite badly. Her mid range and overall tone has a barely-hanging-on quality that sounds as if it's going to go south at any moment; to be honest, it's a chore to listen to her warble and meander her way through otherwise rudimentary and boring songs. In fact, my feelings actually border on embarrassment for her at this point. She is able to hold a note, but she does absolutely nothing with said notes; there are no variances or stylistic enhancements anywhere to be found. When she growls and tries to mimic Angela Gossow (of whom I'm not a huge fan to begin with) it's outright criminal and ridiculous. She sounds more like a small child trying to garner attention though her “meanie” voice than anything even close to 'metal' tonal anguish. To summarize, this album is made all the more laborious by having to listen to these cackling vocalizations vying so badly to pass as cutting edge singing. It is an epic failure in this regard, case closed.

As for the rest of Huntress, the music isn't terrible, but the lyrics are high-school level; in fact, in some spots the music pretty decent, but much like Ms. Janus' voice there are no real variations to set it apart from pretty much any other garage band or demo-only assemblage dwelling in the underbelly of the movement these days. What makes for otherwise unmotivated music is only exacerbated by those horrid vocals, but on its own the music is tolerable, but unexciting and as basic as it comes. While decently produced, it's hard to shake the feeling of 'dirty' from my torso as I listen to this album. I'm not taking anything away from the obvious talent the musicians in Huntress posses, but I will state that, in my humble opinion, it is nothing wholly interesting. If you don't mind your heavy metal being horribly underwhelming and bland, then you might enjoy what you're hearing here. I can't pick out any one track here that even remotely excites or interests me because 1) Janus' voice is like electric shocks going through my pelvic region up into my temples and 2) the band seems reticent to attempt any real effort at creating songs that actually take a chance on thinking outside the musical box. It's sad, really; potential wasted for the sake of having a female-fronted band to entice the male contingent and jump on the current trend that is already dated and essentially over. It's not working...or if it is it's momentary and your career will be short and unassuming.

To be even more honest, it almost seems as if this would be the perfect band to go on American Idol to represent what modern America today views as heavy metal music. Then the uninformed, opaque masses would feel very knowledgeable and edgy by supporting and liking one of “those” bands from the other side of the tracks. The sad thing for them is that this band represents those safety-conscious minions, but real metal fans would more than likely laugh out loud at this band carrying any sort of metal moniker with such a plastic and diminishing style.

A total loss of three-quarters of an hour I'll never get back.

(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)

Better Than You'd Think - 70%

TyphonTheMetalNerd, October 21st, 2012

Ugh. Here we go again. Another band that’s hyped up based solely on the fact that they’re fronted by a woman. It doesn’t matter if she’s awesome or if she’s terrible, if she’s ugly or hot. I don’t care. Can’t we just talk about the band in general? Could the promo guy at Napalm Records just of said they this band is a badass heavy metal outfit from California and then build into the fact that the vocalist’s name is Jill and that she’s got magnificent metal pipes? Look at that! I got the point across that she’s a she and she can bust out the metal scream without making it sound like I’m trying to turn your world upside down!

But yeah, all of that aside, what we have here is Huntress and their first full length release, Spell Eater. As stated before, this bunch plays heavy metal. It may not be the old school’s definition, but it’s still pretty damned metal in old school spirit! Think of a slightly slower version of 3 Inches Of Blood with more self-restraint and more vocal variation.

Let’s talk about those heavy metal guitars first. The solo that bust out of nowhere in Sleep And Death was pretty much all you need to hear to figure out what lead guitarist Blake Meahl’s style is all about: playfulness, unpredictability and madness! Manic riffs and out-there solos set aside, guitarist Ian Alden enforces the Metal Is Law mentality fostered by Huntress with his brand of rhythmic ruckus.

Drummer Carl Wierzbicky (who some of you may remember and worship from his work with DarkBlack) kicks out the most purely heavy metal performance of the group. Mid-paced beats and moderately used rolls and the like allow the drums to remain prominent without overpowering the other performances, which I’m sure Carl could of done. The other in the duo of well known contributors is bassist Eric Harris (formally of Skeletonwitch). Eric’s role in this album is understated. He has shown in the past that he’s got the balls to play bass loud and proud, but he’s kinda forced to the back of the class, as the bassist generally is. But it’s not generally this tragic since this album could of used a little more depth and Eric’s talents could of helped out with that.

What this album really lacks though, is catchiness. Sure the band is good overall, but there’s nothing much here to keep you invested until the very end. I never once found myself singing one of these tunes while I was cooking, in the shower or even just after I finished listening to the album and am walking to the fridge for whatever reason. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but I probably won’t be jonesing to listen to Spell Eater anytime soon.

Overall: Spell Eater is nowhere near as amazing as all of the hype would have you believe, but Huntress really aren’t anything you should pass up if you have the chance to do otherwise. Yes, there’s a female vocalist. Yes, she delivers the goods pretty fucking well (the rumors are true, she sounds amazing) and looks good while doing it. Other than that though, this album is worth a listen but will probably be rejected based on all of the hype or not given a second chance just to be sure. I suggest you give it a shot.

Huntress - Spell Eater - 45%

ThrashManiacAYD, June 25th, 2012

Let's all hear it for the powers of publicity. We metalheads like to think of ourselves as separated from the shallow mainstream pop world where looks are a far more valuable commodity than musical talent but we cannot claim to be immune to it. Welcome to Huntress, a recent Napalm Records signing who have garnering column inches and festival slots off the back of this decent record, "Spell Eater", but as much for front lady Jill Janus as the musical merits within. The promotion of a frontLADY in metal is usually an controversial one and unfortunately for Huntress they are going to have to do a lot more to convince the masses they are not a cheap, short-term sell masquerading as something serious on this basis.

"Spell Eater" ticks all the right boxes of one of those modern metal records that does not fall into any definable category - not for a grand musical soliloquy but rather a lack of any specific qualities - through a loud and clear production with all instruments audible, and 11 songs of normal song-length never looking to push the boundaries of their own sound, let alone the bigger picture. But, as befitting a band called Huntress which has a female:male ratio of 1:4, Janus' vocals are totally dominant in the mix, brought so far forward as to destroy any pretence of equality between voice and instrument. This would all be well if the lady could sing, but her delivery is strained and desperate for most of this LP, a review which compares favourably to her abject live performance rendering anything positive here as likely the result of studio magic.

Other reviews I've read have been totally derogatory of this album, but it is not worth that pasting. Songs like "Spell Eater" and "Eight of Swords" roll with a decent swing and a competent groove while a handful of others ("Aradia", "Sleep and Death", "Children") possess better musical chops than I have heard in most mainstream metal in longer than I care to remember. Improve the vocals and these would not be half-bad songs, something my fellow reviewers of the internetz have over-looked at the first sight and sound of the thunderous Janus.

Unfortunately though Huntress will not be able to overcome the pretences that will be levelled through being so thoroughly self-inflicted but this is not the pandemic you might have read elsewhere. Take with a pinch of salt and a wry smile, and then when you want to hear real female vocals in metal done for artistic integrity head off to Jex Thoth/Sabbath Assembly (same lady), The Devil's Blood or Christian Mistress.

P.S. Might I add this review was going to be a lot more critical in it's condemnation of the selling of Jill Janus as a piece of flesh, but then I was exposed to the travesty that are Butcher Babies. Seems there's always someone worse off than you.

Terrible Vocals, Juvenile Music - 5%

TheStormIRide, May 22nd, 2012

Huntress has apparently been around since 2007. Did you know that? Probably not. I’m pretty sure that just about nobody knew who Huntress was before Napalm Records got a hold of their utter uselessness and spent god knows how much money promoting them and making them out to be the best band to walk the earth.

This really makes me sad because Napalm has put out amazing releases from some excellent bands: Tyr, Summoning, Manegarm, Vintersorg, etc. How does Huntress fit in with the normal folk-laden styles of most Napalm Records releases? Truth is, it doesn’t. It sticks out like a sore, festering, gangrene, about-to-fall-off thumb.

Musically, Huntress isn’t terrible, but do not mistake, it’s still really juvenile. When you throw in the god awful vocals, it just tears all that could be good away and makes me want to rip out my ear drums. The guitarists are competent enough to write some interesting sections (maybe two or three parts on the album). For the most pat, it comes across as a chugging power thrash style. The tone of the rhythm guitar is pretty thick and crunchy but the leads come across as lukewarm and contain no personality whatsoever. During most vocal sections a few lifeless power chords float while that freaking harpy bellows out her verbal garbage. Like I said, the guitars are almost decent , but the leads fail. Everything comes across with an air of familiarity. It sounds like I’ve already heard every note on this album before.

The drums and bass keep the rhythm going, but add nothing special to the music. The drums plod along listlessly, like the drummer is just doing enough to keep a beat. The fills are slow as molasses, and not in a good way. It sounds like the drummer just got the kit for his fourteenth birthday and is still learning what all those shiny cymbals do. The bass is so low in the mix that it may or may not be there.

I hate the production on this album. It makes every instrument sound extremely stale and lifeless. Worst of all, the mix pushes the terrible vocals to the front even further. The vocals are so far in the front that it’s difficult to listen to this without cringing. You can barely hear the music when she’s singing and it gets on my nerves to no end. Production is extremely clean and not muddy or fuzzy in the least bit, but those vocals are way too close to the front for my liking. It’s one thing to have a great singer in the front, but when your singer sucks you might want to try to mask it a little bit.

The utterly terrible vocals, as I said, completely kill any chance of this album being listenable. Napalm claimed that the front woman had this incredible amazing octave range. She might have a four octave range or whatever the hell it was, but that doesn’t mean she sounds good. The vocals go from a really irritating wailing, screaming banshee style to a really off key clean style. I really think the singer might be tone deaf. She squeals and shouts like your mom used to do on Saturdays when you wouldn’t clean your room. I really think she can’t decide if she should sing for a really bad, early 90’s thrash band or if she should be Arch Enemy’s backup singer. The banshee like scream / shout is like a dead cross for Kimberly Goss and Angela Gossow, only not as good as either: and that’s saying a lot because I hate Gossow’s stupid “I think I’m tough” vocals. And then the clean vocals are so freaking uninspired and flat that I wonder why they even put them in. There are even some sections where she tries to pull off an Iron Maiden-esque “whoa oh” section, but utterly fails in every respect. Whereas Mr. Dickinson can keep his tone and gets you wanting to hum along, Huntress makes you want to turn around and run for the hills.

Really, I can’t get over how Napalm Records put this out. This is utter garbage. If the band stepped up a bit and wrote with a little more conviction and branched out from the standard “Learn to Play Metal” riffs, you might have something decent. The drummer needs to step up and learn how to play a proper fill. Honestly, this singer is so bad that I cannot recommend this album to anyone who likes their eardrums. Lifeless, dull and uninspired: this album fails on all aspects. I know the only reason that singer is in the band is because she was a Playmate. Millions of horny twelve year olds will buy this simply for that reason. I guess Huntress is banking on the fact that the sex appeal will be enough to put out shitty music and I really hope this ploy fails. Don’t waste your money on this garbage. This album is recommended to no one.

Eight of Cocks? - 8%

Daemonium_CC, May 3rd, 2012

Ever wondered what two cats experimenting with anal sex sounds like? Then you’ve come to the right place.

Enter Huntress. This is a band that has been hyped up by Napalm Records for the past few months now, with statements like “Lead singer Jill Janus is an operatic banshee with an unparalleled four-octave range” and “The universe spread her legs and delivered Huntress”... and um, yeah. As you can see, they’re not very good at writing press releases.

Nor are the band any good at writing music.

Deep down though, a part of me was hoping that this would be at least half decent. Prior to the albums release, I listened to some live clips, and let out mighty roars of laughter. Still, it’s good to keep an open mind about music, and to give bands a fair chance.

The music here is nothing special. It’s just your standard melo-thrash riffs which we’ve all heard eight thousand times before. The guitar riffs are similar to those one would write six months into the instrument, but refuse to use them later on anywhere, because they’re so shit. And normally, power metal bands will have this one lead guitar player which has spent all of his teenage years running scales and listening to Rhapsody, so he ends up being pretty beast at it. This guitar player will usually come up with some blazing guitar solos which add a dimension of “at least the leads don’t suck” to an album, but Huntress doesn’t have that, either. The guitar solos are unimaginative, boring, and on top of all that, poorly played. Granted, I didn’t come into this album expecting Jeff Loomis type mastery, but come on.

None of the music here is memorable or remotely good. Granted, it’s not as bad as Debauchery, but that’s pretty much impossible anyway. But the thing that bugs me most about Huntress, which I just can’t seem to shake, is that they are a manufactured band. They were put together, in pretty much the same way Nsync were. The singer Jill was a topless DJ in Manhattan and did that for many years, until she got bored of it one day, had her tits done, and decided to join a metal band. The other four guys, poor souls, probably thought “Hey, this could be our big break” and went along for the ride. Even calling them a “band” is pretty insulting, as looking at their promo picture, all I can see are four guys dressed terribly in denim, and what seems to be a professional swimmer.

The only audience this band will find will be twelve year old boys (for the tits) and... I think that just about covers it. “Eight of Swords” huh? More like “Ate All the Cocks”. I can’t believe that I actually sat down and reviewed this before the new Cannibal Corpse or Spawn of Possession, both bands with good music played by, you know, actual musicians.

The only thing that surprised me about this album was the production and mix. These guys really did manage to polish a turd. It must have been a gruelling experience at the mixing board, but they’ve done it. Of course it sounds over produced and over polished – it has to, to mask the complete and utter musical failure they were paid to record. It’s all a copy/paste job in Pro Tools, and the singer does NOT have a four octave voice – she has auto tune, and sometimes even that fails her.

You have been warned. If you’re the type who’s stupid enough to play with raw plutonium, then you’re most probably also stupid enough to listen to this album. I give this project an overall rating of eight – and that’s to the guys who drew the short straws to mix and record this thing. And they are probably on Xanax now.

Overhyped and tremendously boring - 37%

Memnarch, April 28th, 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much hype revolving around a bands first release, and judging by the reaction of the press you’d be lead to believe there hasn’t been a female in metal since sometime around the Neolithic era. The band in question are Cali act Huntress who ply their trade in an aggressive and upfront traditional style of heavy metal that bears a little resemblance to their neighbours north of the border, 3 Inches of Blood. There is always one thing that was guaranteed to provoke a lot of discussion and arouse interest (among other things) in the band and that is having an ex-playboy model fronting your band, which of course is a great selling point when marketed at a legion of sexually frustrated metallers. Of course they claim ‘she may have been a model but it’s not used as a marketing ploy and gimmick to sell the band’; My fucking arse, so let’s just casually ignore all those promo photos then eh…?

Anyway, enough ranting, “Spell Eater” follows on straight from where the previous EP “Off With Her Head” left off, plodding, middle of the road Heavy Metal that’s about as offensive as a Rhapsody lyric book. Being honest, front woman Jill Janus does have an impressive set of lungs on her, and has a decent range, she can certainly tear through a scream or two, but other than that her vocals just aren’t that good. There’s no melody whatsoever in her delivery and while she may be a classically trained singer it doesn’t detract from the fact most of the vocal work on the album never really deviates from a mess of shapeless wailing and screaming that sounds somewhere remotely between Kimberly Goss and Angela Gossow . Let’s also not forget the awfully cringe worthy lyrics at times with the rather blunt “Come lay upon me, take me asleep” or poetic genius of “Deep space, that’s the place”. It’s the place for this anyway, and it can fucking stay there for all I care.

The rest of the album is similarly disappointing and ultimately lacks any significant depth save the speedy punch of “Eight of Swords” which is actually quite impressive and the only track with any kick and drive to it and closer “The Tower” to an extent if you can make it that far. The certainly knew how to the pick the single anyway. The rest of the songs just occupy that grey area of mediocrity and very rarely ever threaten to break out of it while riffing is on the whole fairly pedestrian and unremarkable and the guitar solos appear thrown in for the sake of it. I mean technically they’re very good, there’s just no feeling or emotion whatsoever behind the guitar playing, and for a heavy metal release it’s inexcusable. The basic foundation of what makes a good straight up blood-pumping heavy metal song isn’t there, the memorable and catchy choruses and infectious guitar harmonies just aren’t present.

It’s impossible to pluck any real discernible features that could make “Spell Eater” stand out at all it’s that average, overproduced and dimensionless. It’s not quite offensively bad, its problem is that it’s just unequivocally inoffensive. I could possibly see the appeal if it were to be thrown on for a while at a party or something for a pissed up sing along, but realistically it’s just too derivative and predictable to be of much interest elsewhere. The unfortunate thing is I just know these guys are going to be huge; the hype machine is a fascinating thing, they’re halfway there already before they’ve even released a single album yet, while there are other bands far more deserving of praise such as Christian Mistress, Sign of the Jackal or even Crystal Viper still virtually unknown to many. If you prefer your heavy metal with genuine integrity and attitude then look to the above. This is just poor.

Originally written for http://www.metal-observer.com