Review by Lucy Gliddon
Californian melodic heavy metal outfit Huntress are back with their sophomore effort Starbound Beast, the follow up to the 2012 success, Spell Eater (Ed: Read our review of Spell Eater here)
Opener ‘Enter the Exosphere’ begins with spacey instrumental parts accompanied by eerie high-pitched vocals, before launching into an old-school heavy riff. It sets the album tone perfectly, and the album artwork is instantly complimented. The track tails off and leads into ‘Blood Sisters’ and it’s here that we are first properly introduced to the vocal talents of front woman Jill Janus.
And it’s soon apparent that she’s not just a pretty face. Her trad metal voice makes for a refreshing change from the likes of the symphonic, operatic-style talents that we have become accustomed to hearing in recent years. For those of you unfamiliar, think the grungy, gravelly elements of Courtney Love channelled through the power of Doro Pesch, or Kobra Paige (Kobra and the Lotus). Janus is showcased particularly on tracks ‘Oracle’, ‘Receiver’, and ‘Alpha Tauri’, but she remains strong throughout, often giving male metal heavyweights a run for their money, and unlike many vocalists she manages to keep vibrato under control. However, when she does utilise it, her tone is fantastic.
The aforementioned ‘Receiver’ is a definite highlight and is recommended to any metal fan; combining an impressive vocal section midway in which Janus’ range is fully exercised, with melodic duelling guitar parts, shred solos and progressive sections. Starbound Beast also features the input of Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister in ‘I Want to Fuck You to Death’, as the metal icon co-wrote the track. It’s extremely catchy, and manages to avoid sounding like a Motorhead cover, whilst featuring some great vocal hooks and guitar fills.
As a whole, Starbound Beast is a solid effort both musically, vocally and lyrically. The title track features a couple of riffs in particular that sound as though they could have been birthed by Tony Iommi himself, which only helps to prove that traditional heavy metal fans should be certain to give this a listen. Some tracks are arguably weaker than others leaving room for the band to develop, but overall, it’s a well-executed release.
8 out of 10
- Enter the Exosphere
- Blood Sisters
- I Want to Fuck You to Death
- Destroy Your Life
- Starbound Beast
- Spectra Spectral
- Alpha Tauri