Unleash The Archers from Vancouver (Canada) has not been on my radar before, and it wasn't until a friend gave me the tip the band was brought to my attention. The quintet was founded by Brittney Slayes and drummer Scott Buchanan in 2007. Today, they have two demos, one EP and three studio albums already under their belts, with their latest release "Time Stands Still”, released last year.
After the calm, epic intro "Northern Passage", the band really breaks loose with their trademark high speed metal in "Frozen Steel"; the high pitched screams of front-woman Brittney kick in—Kobra And The Lotus spring to mind— supported by the growls of her band mates. Fast double-guitar parts rear their head; Unleash The Archers take no prisoners, with "Hall of the Tide" upping the ante once more. The drumming takes the foreground, the guitars pushing each other to top their own performances performances and the vocals shift between clear vocals, high pitched screams and deep growls. Once more the pace increases as we enter "Tonight We Ride", where Dragonforce find themselves with some serious competition; the drummer Scott Buchanan thrashing on the drum heads like there’s no tomorrow.
“Test Your Metal” pounds right from the start. We hear explosive riffs throughout the song, yet if any song on the album could be considered radio friendly, it’s this one, lavishly demonstrating it’s pronounced guitar hooks throughout the mid-section. “Crypt” keeps the speed level playful, with melodic choruses, clean vocals and an epic sounding choir. In “No More Heroes” the double-bass takes the foreground, before the speed is lowered for the hook, the guitars taking turns to demonstrate their prowess.
With more than nine minutes of playtime, the song “Dreamcrusher” is the longest track on this release. It starts cautiously calm with acoustic guitars; grandiose calm parts and fast segments trade blows, and Brittney proves us impressively that she can do more than just scream. Even the growls are used discretely here, and whilst it is a lengthy affair, it never comes across as longer than necessary, and with the bass melody that closes it is easily the strongest track on the album. “Going Down Fighting” starts with rhythmic drums and guitar. Double barrelled guitars blast through my headphones. At the end the song speeds up a bit, and a first class guitar solo brings it home.
The title song “Time Stands Still” is the last track on the album. It starts with choral work, only for the drums to soon kick in, followed by fantastic guitar riffs. The speed is heavily throttled, even though the double bass is heavily used. Beautiful melodic guitar gets supported by rhythmic drumming. It ends as epic as it began. On the special edition we find an additional radio edit of “Tonight We Ride”, a version that is hardly different from the original, other than being a minute shorter.
After listening to this album in full several times I have to question myself on how this band could have escaped my Heavy Metal radar all this time—the album is simply amazing! Britney Slayes screams her head off, and the aggressive Death Metal growls of her colleagues suit the tone perfectly. Drummer Scott Buchanan works extremely hard behind the drum set and the strings section gives us a truly heavy sound. This is how Power/Heavy metal is supposed to sound in the 21st century!
Brittney Slayes – Vocals
Scott Buchanan – Drums
Grant Truesdell - guitar, Vocals
Andrew Kingsley - guitar, Vocals
Kyle Sheppard – Bass
Label: Napalm Records
* Northern Passage
* Frozen Steel
* Hall Of The Tide
* Tonight We Ride
* Test Your Metal
* No More Heroes
* Going Down Fighting
* Time Stands Still
* Tonight We Ride (Radio Edit) (Bonus Track)