Starbound Beast

Written by: EW on 13/08/2013 23:40:25

Clearly not stung by the overwhelmingly negative reaction that greeted their debut album, Cali natives Huntress are back with another dose of modern metal in the shape of "Starbound Beast". As I commented at the time in reviewing "Spell Eater", the band did actually display a number of decent riffs and some song writing skills, a fact most other reviews I read neglected to mention in light of the album's dominant feature: the vocals of Jill Janus. This time around her delivery is more restrained and less open to ridicule - there is still the nasally element to her tones and a limited ability to match the pitch of the music at times, but however improved her overall performance there will no doubt be a large section of the metal world making their judgment from her previously discussed extracurricular activities. This is a pity because "Starbound Beast" is actually better than almost everything that passes for 'mainstream metal' these days - tempos are better varied, sections segue into each other more intelligently and, dare I say it, thanks to the presence of a strong female in the band an absence of the testosterone-overload that drags too many metal bands into morasses of excessive aggression at the expense of artistic credibility.

The genuine metal credentials found within the likes of "Zenith", a thrashing track with added doses of melody, the title track with it's crawling tempo building to a mid-song soloing crescendo, or the distinctly Amon Amarth "Receiver" back up the signing of the band to a proper metal label and the words I am espousing now. Across "Starbound Beast" Huntress even go so far as to avoid the traps of overly sweet and synthetic rhythmic and vocal melodies that blunt the attempted power of the widely applauded Machine Head or the (thankfully) bygone Bullet For My Valentine, whose pathetic attempts at pop melodies counteract all notions of anger or extremity. In maintaining their line of fire Huntress can at least claim to play with a certain degree of balls. Irony fully intended.

The pace is predominantly quick but this facet is much developed from "Spell Eater" too, allowing this condescending writer to be surprisingly entertained even after numerous listens. As befitting the strong lyrics to "I Want to Fuck You to Death" (outrageously penned by one Lemmy Kilmister despite being sung from a woman's point of view) Janus will no doubt remain a bone of contention for many, but her improvements match those of her bandmates with the resulting album being far more engaging than I could possibly have imagined. Dare I say it, but this is what should be swallowed by the latest generation of teens finding their feet in metal instead of some far more illustrious names that are commonly sourced as stepping-stones to the proper stuff.


Download: I Want to Fuck You to Death, Zenith
For The Fans Of: Arch Enemy, Lamb of God
Listen: Facebook

Release date: 28.06.2013
Napalm Records

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