Canadian power metal band Unleash the Archers is one of the best metal bands in the country you’ve never heard of. With absolutely amazing guitar play from Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley, fantastic drum work by Scott Buchanan, and one of the most powerful voices in rock today with lead singer Brittney Slayes, UtA is once again dominating the metal scene with their fifth studio album, Abyss. This stroke of genius is a concept album and the long-awaited sequel to Apex, which was selected as one of the top 10 metal albums of the year in 2017. Abyss continues the interwoven story of The Immortal, and its journey from the “apex” of the mountain down into the very depths of the “abyss.” Legendary Danish producer Jacob Hansen was once again brought on board to record, mix, and master this glorious adventure.
Slayes’ voice has such a powerful drive behind it, and has been compared to Jinjer’s Tatiana Shmailyuk, Nightwish’s Floor Jansen, or Epica’s Simone Simons. UtA combines Slayes’ Dio-esque vocals with the amazing runs, slides, and tabs of true power metal. Truesdell and Kingsley are treated like guitar soloists, and their technical precision and electrifying fretwork do not take a backseat to Slayes’ vocals at all – which is no small feat. And don’t forget the amazing double bass drum technique of Buchanan. This female-fronted melodic death metal band truly treats music as an art – honoring each other’s strengths and is more than the sum of its parts. That band harmony can really be seen in their 2017 video for “Awakening.” The band usually kicks off their live shows with this track, for good reason.
Abyss is a rollercoaster ride of power metal riffs, incredible vocals/screams, and tightly woven together storytelling. One of the things UtA does SO well with their music is the build-up, using rising action and power crescendos to build tension and expectation for the ultimate payoff. This album continues that philosophy with the very first track – the ethereal “Waking Dream” – which is basically a layered intro for the album’s totally rockin’ title track.
The four songs on the album that have been released as singles are “Soulbound,” “Abyss,” “Faster Than Light,” and the latest single, “Legacy.” A hidden gem on this album is “Return to Me,” a soaring power ballad featuring Truesdell’s guttural scream harmonization with Slayes. If you like great instrumentation, technical precision, and vocals that just pin your ears back, then Abyss will be your latest earwig.
There’s really not a bad track on this album – from the smooth “Through the Stars” to the powerful album closer “Afterlife” – and everything in between. Abyss attacks your eardrums (in a good way) and transforms the musical metal mayhem into their best album to date. When they set the bar as high as they did with Apex, Unleash the Archers took that bar and blew it to smithereens with Abyss. It truly shows how far the band has come in the last 13 years, and their future is VERY bright.
Recommended If You Like: Jinjer, Amaranthe, Nightwish, Eleine, Epica
Recommended Tracks: 7 (Faster Than Light), 2 (Abyss), 6 (Soulbound), 4 (Legacy), 5 (Return to Me), 3 (Through Stars), 10 (Afterlife)
Do Not Play: Play them all. You’ll thank me later.
Written by John V. Wood on 09/23/2020