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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.