About The Band:
Unleash The Archers from Canada are releasing their latest album Abyss, their fifth on Napalm Records Friday, August 21. The band formed back in 2007 releasing their first album Behind The Devastation in 2009. Only two of the original band are still there to this day and that is singer Brittney Slayes (not her real name!) on vocals and Scott Buchanan on drums. At the moment the band are completed by Grant Truesdell (guitars, growled vocals) and Andrew Kingsley (guitars, synths and clean male vocals). Strangely it doesn’t confirm on the information sheet (or their web site) who plays bass. These four names have been the line up on the last 2 albums Time Stands Still their first on Napalm in 2015 and their last album Apex in 2017. For anyone who doesn’t know, the band fall into power/speed metal with touches of symphonic and progressive and feature a singer blessed with a hell of a voice. On this album alone her range is terrific and by God the lady can hold a note! There are hints of other bands of course both due to vocals and musical styles. Anyways enough background, let’s talk about Abyss.
The Songs That Make The Album:
Opener “Waking Dream” lulls you into a fall sense of calm, the quiet before the storm, gentle guitar and hummed vocal, quite ethereal in sound even when Brittney’s voice comes in properly. There is a folk feel to this. The one verse is sung several times with more power and instrumentation coming in each time. It drops down to synth space type sounds which appear to float straight into the title track (I only have access to a stream for reviewing which stops a millisecond between tracks no matter what) where the sounds are surrounded by drum fills and soaring guitar work. The voice comes in and off we go into classic power metal with a ridiculously long note from Brittney and “hey’s” from the band. The pre-chorus is incredibly infectious, I defy anyone not to either sing along or nod along. With some “woahs” thrown in for crowd singsongs, this should get crowds going nicely once we are allowed to gig again.
“Through Stars” is a 1980s throwback song with cheesy synths that made me think a little bit “Eye Of The Tiger” but the song being sung by either Ann Wilson (Heart) or Pat Benatar at her poppiest. The melody near the end had a hint of Journey’s “Separate Ways” about it. I did say 1980s didn’t I? Even the guitar solos are tasteful and very melodic rather than speed metal shredding. This is one of two songs on here that back in the day would have got radio airplay being commercially accessible. The other “Carry The Flame” even features some clean male vocals from Andrew Kingsley. Mellow hard rock with terrific vocals from both singers.
Possibly the weirdest track is “Legacy” which made me think of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” in the melody running through the vocals on the “When I finally found the words” sections. Even the solo has a hint of that vibe. Another quite accessible song but more power metal for the most part. The whole thing is so uplifting. Lovely stuff.
“Return To Me” is 100% power metal. Melodic upbeat parts, frantic sections, solos, Brittney going between dark and ominous voice to upbeat and melodious and the whole thing is anthemic as the genre allows. The guitars around the 4-minute mark are truly joyous and would make for a brilliant tune for a national anthem. The riffs are also wonderfully groovy. Great track all round. “Soulbound” comes in like an express train. The song features a call and refrain vocal between vocalists and even goes Oriental in influence at one point. Actually this is part of why Unleash The Archers are so good as they can take influence from so many places and styles but make them fit into the power/speed metal genre. It doesn’t get boring or repetitive which can happen at times with the musical style.
Both “Faster Than Light” and “The Wind That Shapes The Land” seem to take a slightly different look at a similar theme that of moving on, not being dragged back or down by whatever problems that are in our lives. The first of them is more in a Dragonforce style, with plenty power metal riffs and drumming but with hints of symphonic around the guitar solos. The latter is a tad more reflective but being the longest song on the album they can explore the theme a little more with changes in tempo and mood and having probably the best use of the harsh verses clean vocal, with the former being almost like the doubts coming into the mind, dragging you back down and the latter unleashing “the force” in you to overcome and succeed.
Final song “Afterlife” seems to be more about living after a period of stress or distress rather than dying in a physical way to be reborn in another form. A large part of this sounds like a film score (the sort of thing Nightwish are so effective at) with wind instruments giving it a folk vibe. The band doesn’t really kick into the song until the second minute going full power metal including a massive chorus (there are plenty of well-written choruses on this) and more melodic guitar soloing (fewer notes more feel). It drops back down to choral chanting and orchestration to finish. It is an incredibly quick 7 or 8 minutes, the song flies by leaving you wanting more. I suppose it is really a song of hope, embracing change and starting afresh. Works for me.
Unleash The Archers have continued to grow and impress with them taking a few chances and having them all pay off. It is power metal but doesn’t stick to one thing so it seems fresh and exciting to listen to. I found it easy to listen to straight through and I didn’t feel my attention waver at any point. The songs are strong and of course, they are blessed with a fabulous lead singer. Tremendous stuff and the good news is they are due to play some of Europe’s main metal festivals next year including the UK’s very own Bloodstock, where they are playing the second stage on the Sunday. It should be a blast.
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