Hellcats have been around for a while, but I only encountered them a few weeks ago as I shared a room in a hostel with their bassist when I was at Metal Days! Joined by two of her bandmates, they were there mainly to see one of their biggest influences, Girlschool. The band are from Ljubljana in Slovenia and the lineup has changed slightly since this album was released in 2013. So, yeah, this review is a little “dated”, but I do promise to review everything I’m handed at a festival, even if it’s from someone I’m sharing a dorm with rather than watching perform on stage!
Sasha and her sister Sonja (drums) formed the band, which took some time as they wanted it to be an all-female act and the small music scene in Slovenia at the time made this tricky. However, they made up the numbers and by 2012 had played twice at Metal Days and been on a Russian tour. By 2015 they’d been round Germany as well – certainly a positive sign for them.
Based on the evidence of Warrior Princess I can’t say I’m surprised at how well received they’ve been. Definitely more into the metal side of things than just hard rock, their sound is gritty and crunching. For an independent release, it really holds up well against many of their peers with a bigger budget behind them. You really can’t put a price on talent, but you can put one on good production and they’ve spent well.
Opener “Hellcats” is a little cheesy – a “here we are, who we are” number but it’s still a good song. However, it’s further on where the truly enjoyable tracks appear. “Now Is My Time” is an uplifting belter with a brilliant guitar solo (courtesy of Katja Mavec) around the 2:30 mark. “Viking” isn’t as “power metal” as you may expect and actually contains some of the best vocal harmonies on the album.
“Proud To Be Loud”, though… The lyrics, guitars and attitude are all Priest with the voice of Ajda Kovacic being the only giveaway that this is, perhaps, not who you thought it was. Ajda, incidentally, has since moved on and been replaced by Dasha Makuc, the only band member I’ve not yet met… or heard performing!
You can check out “Demon Dreams” below, with its creepy overtones – a song any band would be proud of. The album goes a little softer with “Stillness in Time”, which is as close to a ballad as these girls are ever likely to produce. It still rocks balls, though.
Closer “Steelrider” kicks off with a riff reminiscent of Heart’s “Barracuda” on steroids and leaves the user bruised and wanting more by the time it finishes. A fitting final to a very good record, and one I’m really glad I had thrust at me by a beautiful woman in a black corset.
Warrior Princess has been out since 2013 (the English version at least) so it’s high time something else came from the Hellcats camp. If whatever comes next is up to this standard, I’ll be right at the front of the queue to hear it.
Header photo by Brenko Dare