To celebrate 10 years as a band, Vancouver, Canada’s Unleash the Archers have just unleashed their newest opus titled Apex. When discussing Unleash the Archers I can’t help but see the parallels with another band with Canadian roots, Kobra and the Lotus. Both bands have forged similar paths in their attempt to rise in the metal ranks. Both bands have enigmatic, charismatic, and powerful vocalists with UTA’s vocal siren Brittney Slayes and Kobra Paige of KATL. Both bands have had struggles with line up changes throughout their history, both bands utilized the skills of renowned producer Jacob Hansen for their new albums, and of course, both bands now find themselves on Napalm Records. However, that is where the similarities end. While Kobra and the Lotus combine metal with a hard rock sensibility on their latest album Prevail I (my review can be found here), Unleash the Archers are unapologetically Iron Maiden inspired, glorious power metal through and through.
I was first introduced to Unleash the Archers through their last album, Time Stands Still. I was immediately impressed with Slayes seemingly unending vocal range and power, however the songs, while good, didn’t quite hit me hard enough. I became a fan after seeing the band perform on their tour with fellow Canadians Crimson Shadows and their jaw-dropping performance at ProgPower USA in 2015.
The album begins with the dark and ominous bass tones of bassist Nikko Whitworth on Awakening, which quickly picks up speed, turning into a power metal anthem with the rapid fire double bass drumming of Scott Buchanan, razor sharp riffs of guitar tandem Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley, and of course the strong and dramatic vocal delivery of Slayes. The chorus is soaring and melodic utilizing vocal harmonies and Slayes reaching for the stratosphere with her vocals. The use of growling vocals is used sparingly for effect and fits the song perfectly.
The harmony guitar lead on Shadow Guide, are reminiscent of the glory days of Adrian Smith and Dave Murray. Slayes vocal melodies and power are once again on full display and growls are again used to accent the melodic vocal lines. The vocal chants of whoa-oh once again bring classic 80’s Iron Maiden to mind. Slayes full range is unleashed (pardon the pun) on The Matriarch, with an eardrum-piercing scream. The chorus is catchy as hell and should be a real crowd pleaser when performed live.
Cleanse The Bloodlines changes things up with a mid-tempo head-banging heavy groove The pacing is deliberate with chugging guitar rhythms and dramatic vocal work with Slayes emotional and theatrical performance sending chills up the listeners spine during the incredible chorus and chilling use of a vocal choir.
The Coward’s Way has a slight progressive odd-meter intro but quickly transforms into another raging power metal anthem with dueling melodic and growling vocals and a VERY Maiden-esque chanting vocal. Truesdell and Kingsley chops are on full display with some shredding guitar solos.
False Walls is another mid-tempo slower paced song with bass heavy groove and some nice vocal melody lines including another gem of a chorus. The power comes roaring back on the anthemic Ten Thousand Against One, an epic track that weaves a rich tapestry of heavy riffs, powerful and hard hitting drumming, and Slayes brilliant and strong vocal melodies reaching a crescendo with an incredible chorus that will no doubt be a future crowd favorite.
Earth and Ashes is another killer power metal track with blistering guitar riffs and some technical drumwork. Slayes of course brings the song to another level with her soaring vocals. Call Me Immortal is a driving metal tune, with its use of galloping guitars and double bass drumming reminds me of Run to the Hills performed with a modern power metal edge. The chorus is accented with some beautifully done harmony vocals and really brings out Slayes powerful pipes.
The final song, the title track, Apex, is the perfect ending to a fantastic journey into power metal and features one of the best anthemic choruses Unleash the Archers have ever created. The song continues the bands love of Iron Maiden with its use of harmony guitar solos and the soaring vocals of Slayes. This song alone is worth the price of the album.
With Apex, Unleash the Archers have taken a huge step forward both in songwriting as well as production. This album is highly recommended for fans of modern power metal as well as fans of classic Iron Maiden. Oh and one more similarity with Unleash the Archers and Kobra and the Lotus, both their albums are 2017 album of the year contenders! Apex is truly the perfect title for the album as Unleash the Archers have musically reached the apex of their careers thus far.