ALBUM REVIEW: Unleash The Archers – Abyss

Continuing with the concept of Apex (Napalm Records), Canadian power metal quartet Unleash The Archers return with their fifth full-length album, Abyss (Napalm), a direct sequel to its 2017 predecessor.

Sure to be one of the outstanding releases of this otherwise depressing year, Abyss opens with the gentle strains of ‘Waking Dream’, adding layers and building in force with each repetition before moving aside for the sensational title track. Drenched in sparkling keyboards and snappy riffs, the fast-paced and uplifting cut is dominated by talented vocalist Brittney Slayes (aka Brittney Hayes) as she shows off her four-octave mezzo-soprano range with consummate ease. Read our interview with Brittney here.

The commercial but no less beguiling ‘Through Stars’ follows an upbeat number with a chorus catchier than COVID-19. Opening with deceptive tranquillity, ‘Legacy’ explodes into tumultuous life, a joyously chaotic cut which could easily have been written by fellow Canuck, Devin Townsend.

The Townsend influence reappears on ‘Return to Me’, but this time only to serve the more traditional Unleash the Archers sound rather than lead it. The pulsating ‘Soulbound’ rages with guttural vocals and blastbeats, while ‘Faster Than Light’ is an unbelievable flight into pure, glorious, finger-shredding heavy metal with a neoclassical twist.

The titanic eight and a half minute ‘The Wind That Shapes the Land’ moves seamlessly from gentle vocals to throaty roars and piercing high notes, the confident riffs, and fancy fretwork, plus the sturdy drumming of Scott Buchanan all combining perfectly on one of the best songs on the album.

The assured 1980’s radio rock of ‘Carry the Flame’ features guitarist Andrew Kingsley on vocals, before the snappy verses and captivating Celtic melodies of ‘Afterlife’ close the album with no shortage of style, the remarkable final track orchestrated wonderfully by Francesco Ferrini of Italian symphonic death metal act Fleshgod Apocalypse.

From the twin guitar work and solos of Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley to Slayes’ sensational vocals, Unleash the Archers demand a far wider audience than they currently receive. A bold and assertive statement for a band ready to take the next step. Not into an abyss, but into bright new arenas.

Purchase and stream Abyss here: