Monday, August 21, 2017

Unleash The Archers - Apex (2017)

Power metal can be tricky sometimes. A lot of bands are balancing on the edge  with their music, trying to keep it fun, while also staying focused and professional, not ending up being too cheesy. Reading on various other reviews and such, it seems like the Canadians in Unleash The Archers have had a hard time finding the balance in the full decade they have been active. While having an interesting sound with a good female vocalist in Brittney Slayes, and blending in some death metal elements too, they have had the pieces to succeed, but it seems like it is not until now they have fulfilled those expectations.

"Apex" is album number 4 for the band, and it is a record that is jam packed with pure quality. It does not take long until you get stricken by the grand production that perfectly captures the "Lord of The Ring" esque album cover, but it never goes all the way over the top, staying epic in just the right level. It certainly lifts the band up quite a lot, and they really deliver with some great performances. Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley delivers a wide range of great riffs and solos, while Slayes is just killing it with her vocals, reaching those high notes cleanly and building up the tension even further. Drummer Scott Buchanan and bassist Nikko Whitworth (his first album as a member) both do a great job as well, keeping the rhythm in check.

But it is the setlist that truly makes "Apex" stand tall, a wide variety of epic tunes that are both slow and fast, light and heavy, memorable and memorable. Even if not all of the songs hits you right in the gut, they are all bringing something to this album to make it great. The standard in here is incredibly high, never letting you go without giving you a good shake and goosebumps.

It all starts with "Awakening", a late morning sleeper that takes its time to rev up, but bursts out into classic power metal grounds once it gets going. A great start that gets even better with "Shadow Guide" and its great main riff and sing along friendly chorus. And the awesome songs just keeps on hitting you one by one. The epic "The Matriarch", the chugging "Cleanse The Bloodlines", and the melodic "The Coward's Way" all close out the first half in a remarkable way, completing one of the strongest openings of this year.

The second half is not half bad either, even if the two least good songs are here ("False Walls" and "Earth And Ashes"). I really love the simplicity of "Ten Thousand Against One", with its great build up and different style it captures you and makes your head bang along to the slow, heavy beat. It might be the cheesiest songs in the album, but it still kicks ass. The final two songs should not be forgotten either, with the title track closing the album nicely with a more complex structure, and "Call Me Immortal" bringing out a Holy Grail like sound that at least hits my nerves just right.

All in all, "Apex" is just an incredible power metal record with tons of depth and energy. The band just hits everything out of the park here, from the song writing and performance to the production and tone, it all fits neatly into place. It definitely feels like the band has finally found their groove, and that this might just be the beginning of a series of great albums being released by these guys. Power metal lovers, this is a must listen for you, and the rest of you should give it a chance too, because the archers are truly unleashed.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Coward's Way, Shadow Guide, The Matriarch, Ten Thousand Against One, Call Me Immortal

Rating: 9/10 False Walls

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