Unleash the Archers
Release Date: June 2, 2017
Women in metal tend to fall within two categories: goth crooners and death shriekers, epitomized by Evanescence’s Amy Lee and Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz. There are exceptions of course, as evidenced by the stunning operatic performance of Epica’s Simone Simons, who herself could be considered the pinnacle of yet another category of female metal vocalist: symphonic opera, of which the metal genre abounds. Brittney Slayes from Canadian based Unleash the Archers is a breed apart from all of that. Her vocals are powerful while retaining a degree of femininity, falling somewhere between the gothic songbirds and death metal ravens. What makes her particularly notable is the fact that her vocals evoke power metal’s raw power and range, which is decidedly scarce in the realm of female fronted metal. For whatever reason women are quite underrepresented in the power metal genre.
This is not all about Miss Slayes and her exemplary vocals however. This is about the band she fronts: Unleash the Archers and their fourth studio album, aptly titled Apex. This album illustrates a significant maturation of the band and a distillation and honing of their sound. Unlike previous efforts which, while overall solid albums, contained some meandering themes and styles, Apex is a concept album (yet another thing power metal is renowned for) which follows the exploits of a being known as the Immortal who is summoned by a powerful sorceress for her own nefarious ends. Take a listen to “Clense the Bloodlines” which details the main scenario behind the whole endeavor. Heavy metal and dark epic fantasy: two things, like peanut butter and chocolate, which are awesome apart and eminently good together. Unlike the aforementioned confectionary delight however Apex won’t pack inches onto your waist. If anything you’ll burn calories from all the fist pumping and head banging.
Musically, lyrically, and thematically Apex is a tightly focused beam of modern power metal greatness. Every single aspect here is on point, from Slayes’ powerful and emotive vocals, displaying a range hereto unknown, to the masterful shredding of guitarists Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley. The rhythm section comprised of drummer Scott Buchanan and bassist Nikko Whitworth tie everything together with crisp percussion and a rumbling bottom end. The end result is a cohesive and exemplary album representing the greatness that the genre, and more specifically, talented musicians within said genre, can achieve. The apex indeed.
Reviewed by: Farron 1340