Huntress – Starbound Beast

Huntress-Promo-1

Though not flawless, Spell Eater the debut album from US heavy metallers Huntress, made a strong impression, its potent sounds and in the face devilry receiving mixed responses but always sparking something. For us it bred a definite appetite for what was to follow, a keen hunger which new release Starbound Beast teases with, satisfies more often than not but also leaves a sense that maybe the album is resting on earlier laurels rather than forging its own unique and forward driving adventure. It is certainly an appetising and frequently thrilling collection of powerful multi-flavoured tracks but lacks the dramatic impact which its predecessor ultimately achieved.

The Californian band fronted by the always potently pleasing vocals of Jill Janus, a classically trained singer who toured Europe as a teenage opera starlet before moving onto performing with Dave Navarro in a project called Under the Covers, arrived with a wind of brewing excitement and recommendation with their first full length, the anticipation for that already seeded as the band signed with Napalm Records and helped intensely by first single Eight of Swords. Made up of guitarists Blake Meahl and Anthony Crocamo, bassist Ian Alden, and drummer Carl Wierzbicky, some of whom ex-members of Professor, Dark Black and Skeletonwitch, alongside Janus, Huntress it is fair to say split opinions with their debut and are sure to do the same with Starbound Beast. It is fair to say the band and release does everything you would wish for in a heavy metal release, its sound a constant blaze of barging rhythms, predatory riffs, and soaring stormy vocals drenched in passion, but throughout the additionally thrash, death and black metal spiced encounter something is missing or been allowed to escape which leaves the new album bringing up the rear to their first rampage into the world.

Produced by Zeuss (Shadows Fall, Hatebreed, Agnostic Front), Starbound Beast starts like a beast on heat, its opening full song 494_Huntresscoming after the brief chaotic tempest seared by the classical tones of Janus weaving harpy like harmonic toxicity across its sky, the instrumental Enter The Exosphere. The following Blood Sisters sets its dramatic walls from the start, flames of sonic taunting and melodic colour caging the attention whilst rhythms frame it all with deliberate prowling intent. Once secure in its entrapment the excellent vocals of Janus, with a husky growl to her tones, rides boldly on the cantering charge of eager riffs and probing drums jabs which then open melodic arms through the infectious chorus. Throughout there is a constant menace to vocals and sound which flares up and casts shadows over the rampant muscle clad energetic core. It is an excellent track which twists and turns through dark provocation and warm evocation, the perfect scenario for light and dark to wage physical debate within brewing thoughts and maelstrom courting imagination.

It sets a high standard and equally lofty hopes and expectations for the rest of the album which are immediately dented by the following I Want To Fuck You To Death. The song has already seemingly come under fire from many quarters and though we would argue that it is not as bad as many claim, in many ways it does not do the album any favours. Co-penned with Lemmy, the song has a power metal grandeur in intent and a rapacious hunger in certainly the breath and the delivery of the verses, but as the predictable and underwhelming chorus loses the established pull of the track it sounds like a weaker fish from another pond, not the devil spawn lake of Starbound Beast.

Destroy Your Life gets things back on track, its striking melodic and fevered guitar invention standing out as much as the fury that is Janus’ vocals. The solo within is a sizzling detour from the greed of the song, its flare and craft lighting up hot sceneries for the band to exploit with the returning vociferous appetite of the sound and intensity. It is another of the more prominent highlights which the title track, which to be honest took time to persuade but eventually did succeed especially with Janus at her potently sirenesque best, the thrash driven carnivorous Zenith, as well as the following tracks Oracle and Receiver all make very decent attempts in emulating. The second of these savages the senses with primal greed and air scorching intensity vocally and sonically to lift the album back to its highest plateaus whilst the others hold their own with inventive endeavour to undoubtedly leave strong pleasure.

Completed by the more than decent Spectra Spectral and the stirring Alpha Tauri, the album offers plenty to enthuse over and take enjoyment from, especially taking songs individually but Starbound Beast as whole does seem to lose an undefined something Spell Eater which had and feel like a lost opportunity. Despite that Huntress and album still secure a regular appearance on our playlist.

http://huntresskills.com/

7.5/10

RingMaster 28/06/2013

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Huntress: Spell Eater

Before a sound was really heard the buzz behind Californian metal band Huntress was beginning an avalanche like consumption, the coming of a new force in metal being shouted from the rooftops. Good and creative, if not forceful PR is essential for any band to gain attention but it is of course with the sounds where things accelerate or grind to a halt. Spell Eater is the debut album from Huntress following on from just one single and it without doubt declares that this really is a band going places and swiftly. The album is not striving to create new directions and sounds but simply staying true to its metal inspirations, it also will and has spawn divided and often vociferous opinions on the band, but it is impossible to ignore it. The band creates metal firmly veined with classic metal alongside melodic black and thrash metal plus extras all brought with modern thought and intent. Their music is an event, a show that you immerse within or not. It is not world changing or life altering but a show that leaves one satisfied and energised. It is like a musical version of Xena Warrior Princess, bold and in the face, at times over the top and occasionally verging on silly, but always brought with a great quality and drama plus most of all it is just great fun.

All attention and even band info is seemingly centred on front woman Jill Janus which is understandable though a little unfair on the fine musicianship and sounds from the rest of the band who include ex-members of Professor, Dark Black and Skeletonwitch. She is certainly the initial focus the band is gaining attention for, a force with a voice and style as striking as her appearance and demeanour. A classically trained singer who toured Europe as a teenage opera starlet, she has already marked her resume with things like performing with Dave Navarro in a project called Under the Covers, creating Felliniesque cabarets and parties, working as a club promoter, DJ, and appearing in Playboy, but Huntress is certainly her greatest triumph. The seeds of the band began really when she met LA underground metal band Professor in 2009, the moment things fell into place.

Two years on and Huntress sign with Napalm Records, with first single/video Eight of Swords being released just before. The beginning of this year saw the recording of Spell Eater and April 27th its release to what surely will be a great response either positively or negatively, for it is an album that will not simply creep in and out again, it is here to make a noise. Produced by Chris Rakestraw of Sunset Lodge Recording, the release is a rampant and salacious feast for the senses, an easy to get to know and impossible to forget slab of metal. It preys upon and stirs up the senses with the wicked mischievousness of a horny witch and the evil deviousness of a snake, all venomous intent and delicious temptation.

The album opens up on the title track and slicing melodic intrusions from guitarists Blake Meahl and Ian Alden which instantly grab attention before they join in a galloping assault through the ear alongside the strong muscular bass of Eric Harris and the combative rhythms of drummer Carl Wierzbicky. As this takes root Janus steps forward with her startling and impressive delivery and voice. Whether she strikes with elevated clean notes or her imposing and deeply pleasing coarse style she never misses the mark, her training and natural ability put to a full and riveting use.

The song itself is a strong opener without being anything notable but that is soon changed with the following Senicide and its following companions. The growling bass paces behind the expressive guitars adding a menace to the acidic creativity, whilst the eager riffs and commanding rhythms forge a mighty framework for the vocals to mesmerise and thrill within. The song as the album is confident and complimentary to all that produced it, the music allowed to shine as much as the vocals and all individual parts given open clarity without losing the tight group sound.

The album simply gets better and better as it winds its metallic charms around the senses. From the excellent Sleep And Death, where Janus soars the vocals skies whilst bringing a serpentine malevolence, through the slightly bestial Night Rape and the best track on the release Snow Witch, to the predatory Children, the album thrills and lights up the ear with accomplished sounds and ideas. It is not as mentioned groundbreaking stuff but it is damn infectious.

If you liked previous song Eight Of Swords, also on the album, you will love Spell Eater as that is arguably the least impressive song on the album. Huntress might be the beneficiaries of much hype but as the album proves they are not exactly proving it wrong.

RingMaster 23/04/2012

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