Unleash the Archers – Abyss (Napalm Records)Monday, 24th August 2020
Ascending the ranks of the power metal world through high quality output and a memorable live show experience globally, Unleash the Archers prepare to continue their ascent up the ranks with their fifth studio album Abyss. Continuing the conceptual theme that began on Apex and returning to Hansen Studios with Jacob Hansen in Denmark for the recording, these ten tracks feature a wider array of sonic textures – sometimes smoother, refined, and more commercial-leaning but still thunderous in catchy impact while adhering to the tenets of heavy metal.
The keyboard elements add another aural hook component against the wonderful, multi-part background vocals and harmony aspects – making the title track an instant favorite as the Euro-style riffs and exhilarating lead break spins out of your favorite sound system. Now on his third album with the group, guitarist Andrew Kingsley takes command of the musical compositions this go-around – confident in his versatility and knowledge of where to be faster and stronger, or more melodic and subtle in his riffing plus transitions and overall atmosphere portrayed and delivered cut to cut. Exploring early Queensrÿche angles as far as the drumming and guitar mechanics for “Through Stars”, you’ll get to hear vocalist Brittney Slayes develop some of her rich mid-range abilities during the verses beyond where she can soar to the heavens a la Halford, Dickinson, or Daniel Heiman. When you want the band to rear back and go for the speed glory with uplifting melodies against twin neoclassical axe harmonies, look no further than “Faster Than Light”, ideal for all the Gamma Ray/Stratovarius mavens. Epic strains lean heavily into the 8:36 “The Wind That Shapes the Land” – a serene, calmer introduction transitioning into a galloping, heavier affair that includes death growls and a mid-tempo midway segment straight out of Rainbow’s playbook as the twists and turns keep your ears riveted for what comes next. Andrew even makes a co-vocal appearance on “Carry the Flame” – a very AOR/melodic hard rock-oriented affair that could easily be heard and appreciated on most commercial rock stations if they would ever risk playing quality bands of today.
Spreading their wings into dynamic bliss, Abyss reminds this scribe of the transitions Iron Maiden and Queensrÿche were willing to make record to record during their 80’s creative heydays. As such, this should be the most successful and satisfying record not just for Unleash the Archers in their discography, but their ardent fan base as well.