Canada’s Unleash The Archers is a power metal band that always seems to be hard at work. Whether it is rigorous touring, or another full-length, the band often seems to be of interest. And despite their metalcore-ish name, they offer something far better: power metal of the European variety. “Apex” is their fourth album, and picks up exactly where “Time Stands Still” left off. This record, however, feels much more focused. The songs tend to work better as an album than the previous release, which was a little all over the place stylistically (though still full of individual highlights).
Most of the tracks on “Apex” are fairly upbeat, with the primary emphasis being on Brittney Slayes’ lead vocals. She has a wide range, which is as much of a weakness as it is an asset. In the past, she sometimes went a little overboard with the wailing, but on “Apex”, she controls her voice more successfully. On many songs, she tends to be a bit tamer in the verses, and then unleashes her full power in the chorus. The end result is effective, as it makes the choruses the most memorable and worthwhile parts of each song.
Complementing Slayes’ vocals are plenty of solos and leads. Though Unleash The Archers wield some excellent riffs, they are at their best when shredding or playing melodies. Their brand of power metal can tend to get somewhat generic when it relies solely on riffing, but fortunately, Unleash The Archers manages to avoid that by allowing the guitars more freedom. A section towards the end of the title track, “Apex”, is perhaps the best example, as the rhythm section gallops away while the guitars offer killer harmonies. Even the riffs can often get the job done. The opening riff to “Shadow Guide” is just one of those perfectly written riffs that sets the scene for an absurdly catchy song.
And catchy really is the name of the game for Unleash The Archers. The two strongest efforts, “The Matriarch” and “Ten Thousand Against One” are both notable for their memorable, sing-along choruses. The latter track shows a bit of diversity for the band, as it is more rhythm driven, and features Slayes using a lower range in the chorus. Nonetheless, it manages to be one of the standout tracks because of its uniqueness.
Relative to “Time Stands Still”, “Apex” falls a little bit short. It’s still a good record, and the band didn’t fly off the handle the way they did on their last release, but sometimes it was that absurdity that made the prior record so enjoyable. Whether it was the chanting in the title track, the poppy chorus of “No More Heroes”, or the metal anthem “Test Your Metal”, “Time Stands Still” felt like the definitive career release for Unleash The Archers. By contrast, “Apex” is simply a worthy successor that shows the band continuing their excellent brand of power metal.
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"Ten Thousand Against One"
4.1/5 or 82%.
Written by Scott