With the huge number of revivalist bands around today, it’s pretty difficult to get noticed. There aren’t too many of these bands that have a noticeable trait because, let’s be honest here, there’s only so much you can do with straightforward heavy metal. Huntress, however, have set themselves apart in a couple of ways. Firstly, there is their obsession with the occult. Lyrically, the band is interested in anything dark, and it aptly brings back memories of Mercyful Fate. While this is interesting, what everyone is more enticed by is the operatic banshee known as Jill Janus on lead vocals. Beautiful on both the eyes and the ears, this woman has helped the band catch the attention of headbangers everywhere. On their first album, "Spell Eater", Huntress lays the ground for what should be a long and enjoyable career.
As the song titles and lyrics imply, this music is dark. The riffing is not too different from other classic bands, but there is a dark, foreboding atmosphere throughout the album. Many of the leads are crafted to be evil instead of flashy, and Janus’ vocals are likewise used to enhance the atmosphere. Not only does she scream, shrill, and sing, but she also adds harsh vocals that include both black metal (“Eight of Swords”) and death metal (“Sleep and Death”) styles. Appropriately, the music even gets extreme at times. The opening track, “Spell Eater”, has blast beats and tremolo picking, yet manages to remain relatively melodic and catchy at the same time. Likewise, “Eight of Swords” gets pretty intense towards the end and is definitely the standout track. The downside to this album is that some of the riffs just aren’t that good. Huntress cannot play the same simple heavy metal riffs that bands like White Wizzard love because of the ominous tone of the music. Unfortunately, this means that it can be more difficult to find an interesting riff. With that said, none of the riffs are bad, they just aren’t memorable.
Huntress is definitely a band that you will hear from in the future. With an amazing singer, and a unique sound, they are going to stick around; however, they’re going to have to step it up on their next release. "Spell Eater" is a good album, but it relies primarily on the vocal skills of Jill Janus to keep the music interesting. Everyone has heard metal that is dark and evil, but Huntress has the potential to make it more interesting. If the combination of clean and harsh vocals were used more often, it could very well make for an influential album. Regardless of what I want to hear, "Spell Eater" still delivers solid metal. If the title track or “Eight of Swords” doesn’t sway you, this release probably isn’t for you. There are certainly some other gems on the album (“Senecide”, “Aradia”), but the two singles are definitely the best.
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“Eight of Swords"
4/5 or 80%
Written by Scott