Artist: Unleash the Archers
Title: Apex
Genre: Heavy Metal
Release Date: June 2, 2017
Length: 60 min.
Label: Napalm
Personnel: Brittney Hayes (lead vocals), Andrew Kingsley (unclean vocals, guitars), Grant Truesdell (unclean vocals, guitars), Scott Buchanan (drums), Nikko Whitworth (bass)

Canadian heavy metal group, Unleash the Archers, are kind of unique, and maybe a little more so than you may at first notice. They are an interesting fusion of power metal, speed metal, and melodic death metal. They also feature something I love, an amazing lead female vocalist. But the most captivating thing about Unleash the Archers’ music is how they blend those subgenres, and the way they perform their songs.

Their 2009 debut, Behold the Devastation, showed that they could be aggressive and heavy and mix black and death metal with power metal, traditional heavy metal, and modern metal sounds. Their sophomore effort, Demons of the AstroWaste, debuted their conceptual storytelling ability, though in a kind of cliché power metal style. It also had a better balance of power metal with heavier and darker metal styles. In Time Stands Still, they went more toward the power metal end of their mix. I liked all of those albums, but I did not love them.

I love Apex. I think it is an even better balance of sounds for Unleash the Archers than Demons was, and the story is compelling and engaging. In fact, with their fourth album here, I think Unleash the Archers have hacked out their best album yet.

The music on Apex is both heavy and soaring, powerful metal with thunderous drums, speeding guitars, plodding bass, and savage vocals, both the clean ones by Brittney Hayes (aka, Brittney Slayes) and the unclean growls and screams by Andrew Kingsley and Grant Truesdell. However, I was most surprised and intrigued by the story.

Apex is a concept album where each song is essentially a chapter in the story, which is itself about a supernatural, formidable being, The Immortal, who never dies but is cursed to sleep in the mountains and wake every so often – often his wakings are hundreds of years apart – to do the bidding of some master. This time, the master is The Matriarch, a sorceress who has called The Immortal, and she has an especially odd task for him: he must find her sons and bring them to her so she can sacrifice them to attain her own immortality. And this project may encroach on The Immortal in unexpected ways.

Each song manages to both tell a part of the story and effectively communicate the emotions and storyline, while also maintaining a distinct flavor with each track. The concept is a high fantasy idea that could come off as hilariously cheesy, or at least as cheesy as some of Unleash the Archers’ past material. Instead, the band commits to the concept so solidly and performs it with such grace and ease, and with such great performance and production, that I, at least, bought it and loved it. Apex is truly something that I wanted to come back to, and already have multiple times. And each song on this record is crafted with much more care than your average power metal stuff.

I don’t want to tell you much more than I already have, because what I want you to do is go out and experience Apex for yourself. If this short review has your attention at all, I think you’ll enjoy it. I also think you’ll enjoy it if you like some of the stuff from such acts as DragonForce, or if you ever thought Unleash the Archers possessed potential.

I’m going to give Unleash the Archers’ Apex an 85%.