"The Chosen One"

By Dr. Abner Mality

What on Earth are we to make of this? I've not heard anything quite like this, even though the band is rooted in US power metal and thrash. It's very heavy and doesn't sound quite like any other band, even though the press sheet throws out the names of KING DIAMOND, ANTHRAX and MEGADETH. The screaming guitar leads and unorthodox structures put it in the general ballpark of MEGADETH, but the band really doesn't sound much like Mustaine's bunch.

The one thing that really separates UNDER A SPELL are the female vocals, Pam Rosser definitely has the lungpower, but wow, something is really off about these lusty sopranos. It just does not sound right....there's a flatness to the inflection and the way words are enunciated that just doesn't work. In some spots, Pam almost gets it right, but not often and her performance on "Judgement" and "Invitation to a Dark Sleep" is genuinely painful to hear. If you substitute someone like Marta from CRYSTAL VIPER, it would sound a lot better. One exception is "Into the Dark", where a lower register really helps a lot. Why more of this style isn't used, I don't know, but the vocals hurt this record.

The music itself has a kind of unpredictable wildness to it, with ripping lead guitar attacking from all angles. The lead work is the saving grace of UNDER A SPELL, as it really shreds. The drumming is extremely manic and is way up front...on "Voodoo Doll" and "Into The Dark", the drumming almost overpowers everything. The general style reminds me of US power metal like OMEN and ATTACKER, but in an unhinged way. I can't deny there is some truly crushing riffing on this disc, most notably on "Voodoo Doll" and "My Dead Life". There is something here that might be exciting if tapped into properly. But if Pam Rosser can't get a better handle  on her vocal technique, UNDER A SPELL is not going to go anywhere.