December 10, 2015 Huntress – Static (Album Review)
The year of 2009 saw the rise of Highland Park, California-based Heavy Metal band Huntress. Come together when talented Vocalist Jill Janus met up with members of underground Metal act Professor, she and her new bandmates had a distinct vision for their music; to create Heavy Metal with blistering riffs, dark ambiances, and soaring vocals After three years honing their craft and signing to Napalm Records, the band released Spell Eater mid-2012 to positive acclaim. The following year they released Starbound Beast, which saw them receive even more attention and landed them a position US Billboard Heatseekers Charts. Following with consistent touring, including a stint on Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival 2013, touring with Arch Enemy and Kreator in 2014, and more, Huntress prove to be a band on the rise.
Through some changes, the band still is lead by Janus on vocals and Blake Meahl on lead guitar, while Guitarist Eli Santana and Drummer Tyler Meahl joined them for work on their third studio record, Static. Released back on September 25, 2015, the record is produced by Paul Fig (Alice in Chains, Bush) and Jim Rota (The Foo Fighters) and could be their most complete work today. While the record itself is a statement, it is also a testament to Janus’ strength. Honest about her personal struggles with mental illness, on top of her other battles, Janus was diagnosed with uterine cancer back in 2014. Showing the soul of a warrior, Janus is cancer free now and ready to keep the dream of Huntress alive.
As for Static, it is a 10-track of brooding Metal beginning with “Sorrow,” featuring guitar-shredding and explosively drumming. Janus, who is Opera-trained, displays an astounding four-octave range and shows she can hang with the masculine fare vocally, singing about inescapable grief and self-loathing. Next, “Flesh” has a riff intro to match Janus’ vocal range going down. The energy of the tune is high throughout as the drums double in time as the tune fluctuates while Janus sings about a dark communion with the lyrics, “Hunt you like a wild beast/Turn you out for my release/Craving your Flesh.”
Moving on, “Brian” is a aggressively played piece with a sharp riff that moves the melody like a freight train accompanied by the equally timed drums as Janus’ ode to a mentor. Janus’ candidness shines in “I Want to Wanna Wake Up” as the track begins with the fist-pumping drums as the riffs melodically slide in and out. Here, she uses her range to sing of her battles with mental illness as she sings, “I have dreams of what I used to be/Lifetimes fail and fall/I always leave them all behind.”
Continuing that candidness is “Mania.” At almost nine minutes long, this track slows the album’s pace without losing the rocking as the guitars and drums are rich to match Janus’ emotional lyrics, “I lose control, she takes hold/My spine distorts, the face you’ve known morphs/Violence comes next, I see red/I tried to stay sane for ya/But I’m ruled by Mania.” Exploding out of the gate thereafter is “Four Blood Moons,” the quintessential Speed/Thrash offering, riffed up and pounding. Janus’ voice is all over the place as she prophesizes something big is going to happen within the words, “Blood spills in Israel/The mystics predicted the change, it’s strange.”
The title track of the album, “Static,” has a retro feel that sizzles with high-end riffs while Janus’ voice has bite like crackling electricity as she seems to sing about treatments she has endured. The mid-tempo “Harsh Times on Planet Stoked” strums in with a simple riff with Janus seeming to sing about what she goes through when her other personality comes through. Midway through the tune, an intricate guitar solo runs through at breakneck speed that is beautiful, yet, set aside like a break from the melody.
Taking pride in her heritage, Janus sings proudly in “Noble Savage.” It is another mid-tempo piece with a plucky riff and assertive drums as Janus takes listeners on a path of a bygone era brought to life with the words, “Le Bon Sauvage/Défenseur des terres sauvages/Armes à la main (The Noble Savage/Defender wilderness/Weapons in hand).” Then, the pièce de résistance of Static is the thrasher “Fire in My Heart,” a Danzig-esque piece in melody and lyric delivery with the hook and brooding tone as Janus sings of a dark sexuality to end the standard edition of the album.
Huntress’ candidness and the imagery used to show what is in their minds is a refreshing change of pace in a society that would rather sugarcoat mental illness than face it head on. Janus’ strong vocals and the band’s killer melodies do that in spades. CrypticRock gives Static 5 out of 5 stars.