It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much hype revolving around a band's first release, and judging by the reaction of the press you’d be lead to believe there hasn’t been a female in Metal since sometime around the Neolithic era. The band in question are Cali act HUNTRESS who ply their trade in an aggressive and upfront traditional style of Heavy Metal that bears a little resemblance to their neighbours north of the border, 3 INCHES OF BLOOD. There is always one thing that was guaranteed to provoke a lot of discussion and arouse interest (among other things) in the band and that is having an ex-Playboy model fronting your band, which of course is a great selling point when marketed at a legion of sexually frustrated Metallers. Of course they claim, "She may have been a model, but it’s not used as a marketing ploy and gimmick to sell the band." My fucking arse, so let’s just casually ignore all those promo photos then eh…?
Anyway, enough ranting, “Spell Eater” follows on straight from where the previous EP “Off With Her Head” left off, plodding, middle of the road Heavy Metal that’s about as offensive as a RHAPSODY lyric book. Being honest, front woman Jill Janus does have an impressive set of lungs on her, and has a decent range, she can certainly tear through a scream or two, but other than that her vocals just aren’t that good. There’s no melody whatsoever in her delivery and while she may be a classically trained singer, it doesn’t detract from the fact that most of the vocal work on the album never really deviates from a mess of shapeless wailing and screaming that sounds somewhere remotely between Kimberly Goss and Angela Gossow. Let’s also not forget the awfully cringe-worthy lyrics at times with the rather blunt “Come lay upon me, take me asleep” or poetic genius of “Deep space, that’s the place”. It’s the place for this anyway, and it can fucking stay there for all I care.
The rest of the album is similarly disappointing and ultimately lacks any significant depth save the speedy punch of “Eight of Swords,” which is actually quite impressive and the only track with any kick and drive to it, and to an extent the closer "The Tower," if you can make it that far. They certainly knew how to the pick the single anyway. The rest of the songs just occupy that grey area of mediocrity and very rarely ever threaten to break out of it, while riffing is on the whole fairly pedestrian and unremarkable and the guitar solos appear thrown in for the sake of it. I mean, technically, they’re very good, there’s just no feeling or emotion whatsoever behind the guitar playing, and for a Heavy Metal release, it’s inexcusable. The basic foundation of what makes a good straight up blood-pumping Heavy Metal song isn’t there; the memorable and catchy choruses and infectious guitar harmonies just aren’t present.
It’s impossible to pluck any real discernible features that could make “Spell Eater” stand out at all - it’s that average, overproduced and dimensionless. It’s not quite offensively bad, its problem is that it’s just unequivocally inoffensive. I could possibly see the appeal if it were to be thrown on for a while at a party or something for a pissed up sing along, but realistically it’s just too derivative and predictable to be of much interest elsewhere. The unfortunate thing is I just know these guys are going to be huge; the hype machine is a fascinating thing, they’re halfway there already before they’ve even released a single album yet, while there are other bands far more deserving of praise such as CHRISTIAN MISTRESS, SIGN OF THE JACKAL or even CRYSTAL VIPER still virtually unknown to many. If you prefer your Heavy Metal with genuine integrity and attitude then look to the above. This is just poor.
(Online April 20, 2012)