Unleash The Archers - Apex
Napalm Records
Power Metal
10 songs (60:37)
Release year: 2017
Napalm Records
Reviewed by Ben

Due to the overwhelming strength of force that was Abyss, I had to go and grab Apex to get more Unleash The Archers for my newest metal fix. Apex is part one of a story that continued (concluded?) on Abyss. However, the albums have been released three years apart so there is a marked difference in the two. For one, the songs here are noticeable in their tempo being lower than the majority of Abyss. That isn't to say this is a boring mid paced slogfest, hell no, but the band must have practiced a ton between Apex and Abyss. The difference between the two albums is quite noticeable. Maybe it's because of the slower tempo, but Apex definitely feels like it's the longer album. A quick check though shows that this is only four minutes longer than Abyss. It feels like it's fifteen or twenty minutes longer to me.

That's enough of the comparing and contrasting, now onto the merits of Apex on their own. As far as individual performances, the singing is an incredible highlight. Powerful screams are in abundance here and vocal melodies are again well thought out and articulated. There is not one weak vocal performance to be found. Every note sung sounds truly inspired. Seemingly in keeping with what little I know of Unleash The Archers style, the guitars are relatively busy despite being restrained a bit. Riffs are still thick and meaty and sweet guitar harmonies pop in and about throughout. My personal favorite tracks here are The Matriarch and Call Me Immortal. The Matriarch is a hefty, chunky, concrete slab of energetic old school metal. I get strong Riot and other types of old school vibes from this song. The guitar has bouncy, rollicking sections that are reminiscent of some of Ritchie Blackmore's work with a Strat. Call Me Immortal is powered by galloping drums and probably the album's simplest guitars. Consisting of mainly ringing power chords with occasional spurts of riffing, this simplicity is used to offset a powerhouse vocal performance. The post chorus riffing section should be noted for its augmented chords, and it is packed with quality note choices.

Apex, whether on purpose or not, has three rather longish songs placed in the beginning, middle, and end of the album. Respectively, they are Awakening, False Walls, and the title track. These three songs to me are where this album shows itself to be slightly inferior to Abyss. While being the strongest hitting of the three (and the shortest), Awakening has nowhere near the tremendous power of the opening salvo that is Waking Dream and Abyss (the song). Also, False Walls seems to drag a bit. There's not many sections here and there isn't really that "epic" feel. Something that I want to point out is that starting at 6:14, the guitar melody sounds very similar to a little melody in the song Fragments Of My Reflection by a band called Lilitu. In that song, this little lick shows up around 3:30. I'm not saying anyone "ripped off" anybody, just that this is like a 2 Minutes To Midnight / Power And The Glory / Swords And Tequila riff similarity type of thing. The last epic, the title track, is structured the best of the three with its extended guitar harmonization section. Another notable is that some guy makes a guest appearance on the song Earth And Ashes. However, he sounds a bit different than whoever did the guest appearance on Carry The Flame off of Abyss. I bought these albums off of bandcamp where there are no credits to be had for "some guy." Maybe, "some guy" should email the label and request them to update the credits on the album they are selling.

Apex is a rather enjoyable listen and if this had been my first serious foray into Unleash The Archers, this probably would be rated a bit higher. Buuuuuut, since I'm late to the party here I was exposed to Abyss first and yes, that one is the superior album. Something that should really be noted however is that this band seems to have quite dramatic growth between releases. The advancement in playing and songwriting between this and the followup is quite impressive. I imagine when I go back further into the band's discography I'll enjoy myself, but will probably find myself leaning towards the later years. Hey, it happens. With that being said, if this is a 79, and Abyss is an 85, then that leaves room for even more improvement for whatever comes next. Recommended, but get Abyss at the same time if you can.

Killing Songs :
The Matriarch, Shadow Guide, Call Me Immortal, Cleanse The Bloodlines
Ben quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Unleash The Archers that we have reviewed:
Unleash The Archers - Abyss reviewed by Ben and quoted 85 / 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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