Unleash The Archers – “Apex” (Napalm Records)
Celebrating their 10 year anniversary with this 4th album, these Canadians have come a long way. Gone are the polymorphic scalings, overt beauty-meets-beast gruff / screamo vocals and general aggression of old on the likes of 2011’s “Demons of the AstroWaste”, these days evolved into a modern heavy / power metal vein although still with heaps of melodies – not in the least from the soulful siren vocals of Brittney Slayes! Equally, it’s clear from the quality of the song writing that the band have matured with time but if anything, ageing like fine wine has made them tighter and the polished performances on “Apex” don’t understate its title! Listening to ‘The Matriarch‘ it’s clear that the band’s early Maiden and more recent Helloween influences are evident with plenty of galloping riffs, up tempo drumming, a catchy anthemic chorus – and of course plenty of high soulful wailing a la Bruce Dickinson! Switching to a more sultry tone for the more epic ‘Ten Thousand Against One‘ backed by subtle warrior growls as the melodies and riffs from twin guitarists from Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley build, Slayes‘s sopranos contrast superbly with the song title’s chorus shout outs which themselves are almost in a hardcore vein, wailing until the close of the song. However, it’s on the epic ‘Cleanse The Bloodlines’ that the band truly show the measure of their growth, with plenty of aggressive riffing and drum work mixed with power melodies and Slayes soul exuded in her standout vocals, complemented by background beastly growls and all culminating in a climatic build up resplendent with choirs amid bombastic drums and dancing guitar melodies – super! While there is an undoubted difference to that band of old, Unleash The Archers these days are clearly aiming for the big league and “Apex” is reflective of that, although there’s still plenty of passion and energy, not to mention sincerity still in their music to keep fans of old in the fold too.