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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.