Unleash the Archers Abyss, a conceptual sequel to 2017’s “Apex”, establishes the band as an elite powerhouse with a release that will be recognized in time as of one the most brilliantly crafted and executed collections of aural storytelling ever created.
I’ll state it ahead of time for full disclosure – I was a fan prior to hearing Unleash the Archers (UTA) new release “Abyss” , so I’m admittedly biased. Having said that, I make the prior proclamation with resounding confidence. Queensryche – Operation Mindcrime, Fates Warning – A Pleasant Shade of Gray, King Diamond – Abigail, Blind Guardian – Nightfall in Middle-Earth, Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son are just a handful of universally accepted -goat- “concept” metal releases, and in time “Abyss” will join this list of metal masterpieces. The past several years there’s been a momentum building around this Canadian quartet, especially once the popularity of many YouTube “reaction” videos started to emerge capturing the astonishingly awestruck expressions from many listeners hearing Unleash the Archers for the first time. I was fortunate enough to witness Unleash the Archers live a few years ago in Tampa, Florida, they are one of the few bands that can deliver a live performance that somehow surpasses the recorded performance, absolutely mind-boggling to be honest.
“Abyss” delivers on all levels. The engineering by Jacob Hansen is top notch and lends itself to capturing the enormous sound and complex, diverse instrumentation throughout the recording by providing each instrument (and voice) their own distinct sonic space to occupy. End production is very nicely done. The fret work from Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley is blistering, tight, dynamic and musical, this team work so well together that it’s a joy feeling the skin peel off my face as they shred. Scott Buchanan’s drumming performance here on “Abyss” again is metal epic, from double kick frantic to mid tempo driving, to anthemic huge and solid, I get exhausted for him! Insanely talented drummer. If you get a chance to catch UTA live, spend some time watching Scott’s footwork, his heel-toe technique is world class. Then there’s vocalist Brittney Slayes… ahh, Brittney. Every several years within the metal world a voice emerges that utterly shocks, inspires, brings tears, smiles and otherwise leaves the listener breathless and wanting more. This is now the era of Brittney Slayes. The power of Dio, the clarity, range and delivery of Ann Wilson, the dynamics, warmth and tone of a mystical angel – I don’t have ample words to describe the immense joy her voice brings. It’s as if every word or phrase touches one’s inner soul, truly one of a kind. Brittney’s performance here on “Abyss” is next level, a continued progression of memorable melodies, power and beauty. She has arrived and ascended the throne.
Let me talk about the songs. At the end of the day, a music release is about the tunes after all. “Abyss” delivers on EVERY. FLIPPING. SONG. PERIOD. Unleash the Archers has a solid body of work already, dating back to 2008’ish, they’re not a “new” band. *(The listener would be well advised to check out their prior releases as well)*. There’s been a definitive evolution in song writing and performance. “Abyss” fires on all notches here with songs that are so melodically catchy that I’m humming them throughout the day, and tempos ranging from break-neck deadly to mid-tempo fist pounding to anthemic ballads. I have to also touch on the story line as it is a “concept” release. “Abyss” continue’s the story of “The Immortal”, a compelling fantasy scifi setting that quite honestly is begging to made in to a book, graphic novel or movie. It’s an expansive backdrop that lends itself well to metal music of course, but also potentially bigger opportunities. If UTA are reading this, hear me on this, ensure you have rights locked down on this intellectual property… opportunities are heading your way!
Tracks and notes:
“Waking Dream” – Opening track. Airy, hauntingly dramatic. Beautifully melodic.
“Abyss” – Video available. mid and fast paced rocker. Cool synth.
“Through Stars” – Wow. Mid tempo, this could actually be on rock radio, melody amazing here, stunning, powerful chorus. Napalm should push this as a single to some radio markets imo.
“Legacy” – OMG. Starts so softly, then…epic, frantic, happy. When the guitar scales began I teared up, insane musicianship. I cried.
“Return to Me” – Yes, some growls. aggressive, heavy. Chorus soars.
“Soulbound” – Video available. There’s some vocal acrobats in beginning, whoa… incredible performance.
“Faster than Light” – Video available. Barn burner, geeez. Metal!
“The Winds that Shapes the Land” – Holy crap. This song. Legend. Instant classic. From slow to heavy, anthemic, some prog aspects, wow!
“Carry the Flame” – Mid tempo. I have to be honest, these mid tempo, melodic tunes are well suited to UTA. This another potential rock radio tune imo. The verses here are top notch! Happy.
“Afterlife” – Majestic way to end out the release. Every element possible here, from movie sound track moments, to heavy aggressive to chorus so thick I was marching down street declaring victory for a battle I wasn’t in 🙂
Unleash the Archers “Abyss” takes you for an amazing journey, you will not be disappointed.