Unleash The Archers - Abyss
Napalm Records
Power / Speed Metal
10 songs (56"56)
Release year: 2020
Napalm Records
Reviewed by Ben

Color me surprised and very impressed by the newest release from Unleash The Archers. Just like with any band with alot of internet buzz, I was wary of this "new" group that were on the lips of many. In fact, due to alot of modern trends, I figured these guys to be another "costumed metal" band and unfortunately, I missed out on some stellar music. Keep in mind, I literally know nothing about this band other than they have been around for at least five years, and their earlier albums invoked more harsh vocals than current incarnations.

First off, Unleash The Archers have an abundance of energy, and this is right up my alley. While not every song is a fast one, each one is quite energetic. The vocals are extremely well done. Superbly so. Them and the guitars work in tandem to be album highlights. In terms of color, the singing is very confident and soaring and provides us with interesting vocal melodies. Through Stars is a prime example of this. Not only does this have ringing, suspended chords to give cool sounds, the lyrics are hard hitting because of their authoritative delivery and melody. If I were to nitpick though, something that becomes noticeable and hard to unhear once heard, is that the singer decides to go with a super high note in the beginning of more than a few songs after the main riff kicks in. While this is a Power Metal trope, once noticed it is slightly distracting. Not because it sounds "bad," even I begin to grin when I hear them, it's just that they come in the same spot with each appearance. Maybe start a song ala Ram It Down from Priest with just isolated screams to change things up. Also, damn, you gotta hit these notes every night you play live now! I remember Joacim Cans saying something along the lines of how he fucked up when recording Unbent Unbowed Unbroken because some song on there had insane high notes and now he has to be able to do that when they play it live on tours with grueling schedules. And that was just one song.

Keyboards are used prominently and are generally effective. There are sections where they add dramatic flair through electronic sounds and then there's some orchestral intros and interludes. I generally enjoy the keyboard usage but I'll be honest here, the strings in the chorus to Faster Than Light do bring up the syrupy factor a bit much. As far as the pure orchestration, that's mainly reserved for the final song, Afterlife. Guitar wise, there's a large variety of riffs and technique to keep the listener interested. There are numerous sections within each song and each section has its own repertoire of riffs. Most notable is that there are no parts where the rhythm guitarist is playing boring whole note power chords while the lead guitarist is sweeping over them incessantly. The rhythm guitar is busy and there are really cool, ringing, extended chords that provide much appreciated flavor.

Apparently Abyss is a concept album and the previous one, Apex, started this story. Well, I just have the mp3s from bandcamp, but even I can tell that there has been quite a bit of effort put into the thematic presentation here. The first song, Waking Dream, is a four minute chant, a build up to the title track. Only a concept album would have the audacity to begin with something like this! Starting off acoustically, this eventually swells into a tribal sounding chorus with everyone in the band joining in. This acoustical vibe will make a return on the song Legacy. Abyss, Soulbound, and Faster Than Light are the super speedy songs. Through Stars, Return To Me, and Carry The Flame are the mid tempo tracks, each with really bad ass guitar solos, and The Wind That Shapes The Land is THE epic of the album. Harsh vocals make a prominent appearance in The Wind That Shapes The Land and you can tell that this is supposed to be a big moment in the story. Much of the song is dramatic, but what makes it go over the top in a very delicious way is the triumphant sounding segue way a little over five and a half minutes in. THIS is how you can do triumphant music without sounding too overtly happy about sugar. Congrats to the band for pulling off a convincing epic, they aren't easy to do. And also, what is this, no ballads? Another album with no ballads? LET'S HOPE THIS TREND CONTINUES. The closest we come to a ballad is Carry The Flame but this is way old school metal and rock vibes. Those cool extended chords? They're all over here along with a tremendous solo. Some guy also makes a guest singing appearance here and he does well but his spot is kinda unnecessary.

Abyss is a fine, solid platter of well executed Power Metal that makes this old curmudgeon quite happy. From what I can gather, even their long time fans are surprised in the quality of this album. It seems Unleash The Archers have realized their potential that they've been brewing for a bit with Abyss. Hey, this is pretty much my first exposure to them and I can say I like this shit ALOT. A whole lot. And I don't like much of anything new these days. I cannot find one bad song on Abyss and believe me, I went looking! This album is highly recommended.

Killing Songs :
Soulbound, The Wind That Shapes The Land, Faster Than Light, Through Stars, Return To Me, Carry The Flame
Ben quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Unleash The Archers that we have reviewed:
Unleash The Archers - Apex reviewed by Ben and quoted 79 / 100
Unleash The Archers - Time Stands Still reviewed by Joel and quoted 88 / 100
Unleash The Archers - Demons Of The AstroWaste reviewed by Joel and quoted 83 / 100
Unleash The Archers - Defy The Skies (EP) reviewed by Chris and quoted No quote
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