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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.