Monday, July 02, 2012

Review: Huntress - Spell Eater

By now, pretty much anyone reading this will have become familiarized in one way or another with "Eight of Swords", the debut Huntress single that grabbed the attention of audiences world wide. Almost over night, news spread of this California born group and their front woman Jill Janus, who has a way of winning over crowds at festivals and shows. Spell Eater has quickly become one of the most hyped albums of 2012, is the content worth all the buzz it has been receiving?

Genre: Heavy Metal
Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: May 8th, 2012
  1. Spell Eater
  2. Senecide
  3. Sleep and Death
  4. Snow Witch
  5. Eight of Swords
  6. Aradia
  7. Night Rape
  8. Children
  9. Terror
  10. The Tower
  11. The Dark
Total Playtime: 46 minutes, 46 seconds





Rating: 8.5/10





By now, pretty much anyone reading this will have become familiarized in one way or another with "Eight of Swords", the debut Huntress single that grabbed the attention of audiences world wide. Almost over night, news spread of this California born group and their front woman Jill Janus, who has a way of winning over crowds at festivals and shows. Spell Eater has quickly become one of the most hyped albums of 2012, is the content worth all the buzz it has been receiving?

The album opens with the title track, "Spell Eater", ensnaring a frenzy of tremolo picked riffs until it explodes into a rhythmic hook section as Jill Janus' vocals come in powerful and clear. There has been talk about Janus having had operatic vocal training, and it shines through Spell Eater like a powerful light in dense fog. She uses a variety of vocal techniques, from screams, to growls, whispers and hisses. All performed in different octaves and never just sticking to one consistency for too long, this all adds up to a genuinely interesting display of vocal prowess.

There is a mist of classic stoner/doom metal influence that lingers over the content on this album and the witchcraft theme really sets the overtones into motion. "Senecide" is a powerful example of stoner/doom traits that line tracks here and there, conjuring melodiously slick solos that are backed by slower, chugging power chord riffs and a steady snare/hi-hat combination drumbeat. Often, the vocals will take on a darkened hiss and the echo around the track in whole gives a sinister vibe.

"Quick here comes death!
Take your last breath
You are spent
The horsemen ride tonight"


Who could forget the evil solo that lead guitarist Blake Meahl shreds after this set of lyrics? "Snow Angel", "Aradia" and "Night Rape" are more examples of songs heavier with this overtone, but one will find it spread  throughout the content.  


One real problem with the material here is how high the vocals are on the mix in about the first four songs. Jill Janus has such strong vocals that the highs reach a little too high in some cases, especially to headphone listeners who may find themselves having to adjust the volume quite a bit during the first half of Spell Eater. This problem clears up right in time for "Eight of Swords" and from then on the vocals are mixed better and the highs are compressed a little more. 

Any Skeletonwitch fan will recognize bassist Eric Harris who played bass for the band on Worship the Witch (reviewed here) and Beyond the Permafrost (reviewed here). He makes his presence well known with a driving backing bass line that sits perfectly between the drum and guitar tracks. "Children" has one wicked bass riff at the beginning that keeps the listener fixated on the instrument throughout the entire track.

As cliche as it may sound, "Eight of Swords" is easily one of the biggest highlights of the album and is an instant heavy metal classic that showcases the best of every member. Jill gives a powerful vocal performance and couples it with catchy lyrics, she's backed by Ian Alden's hooky rhythm guitar riffs and the hard hitting drumming of Carl Wierzbicky who works well with bassist Eric Harris to keep a beastly heaviness present. All of this is topped off by one of the best solos that lead guitarist Blake Meahl performs. Other highlights included are "The Dark", "The Tower", "Senecide", "Snow Witch" and "Aradia".

Spell Eater is the embodiment of dark heavy metal. Witchcraft looms in all corners of this album, and there are obvious elements that stem from all members since there is a little bit of everything put into this material; doom, stoner, thrash, black and classic metal influences can all be heard at one point or another. This album is a recommendation for those open to interesting underlying lyrical concepts and powerful woman fronted vocals.

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