June 2021 Feature Release – The Guardians Edition

First Post May 31, 2021 07:50 PM

So just like that we find that a new month is upon us which of course means that we’ll be nominating a brand new monthly feature release for each clan. This essentially means that we’re asking you to rate, review & discuss our chosen features for no other reason than because we enjoy the process & banter. We’re really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on our chosen releases so don’t be shy.

This month’s feature release for The Guardians has been selected by Xephyr. It's 2017's "Apex" album from Canadian power metallers Unleash The Archers.


June 07, 2021 03:08 PM

So first of all, thanks Xephyr for introducing me to this album.  It is fair to say that I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I have and equally clear is that I might just have a new favourite band.  The connection I made with this record was more or less immediate and was one that was as unexpected as it was welcome.  From the sheer quality of the musicians to the compositional ability of the song writing and the balance to everything, there's so much to admire here.

Brittney is one of the most talented without being overtly showy vocalists I have heard and the way she controls her delivery to compete with (and often best) the fire and energy of those riffs and leads is extraordinary.  There's no high-pitched shrieks needed her for her to make her presence known, a real solid no-frills performance if ever I heard one.  The one black mark against the record is Grant's poor efforts at harsh vocals which as I note in my review are laughable at times and the one thing that keeps the album away from full marks.


June 07, 2021 04:23 PM

Thanks Vinny, as I listen to more and more Power Metal my opinion of this particular release only seems to get more and more favorable. I can agree about the harsh vocals though, I've probably given them too much of a pass in the past because I completely understand where you're coming from, especially since that voice is supposed to be the main antagonist of the story, which makes it even more silly sometimes. 

I'd be careful about claiming a "new favorite band" and maybe stick to a "new favorite album" because Apex is definitely a major outlier in their discography in my opinion. These guys started out pretty rough with a bit more Death Metal influence, hence the harsh vocals here and there, but got progressively better each album before peaking with Apex. Their newest album Abyss really doesn't live up as a continuation of Apex, which is a damn shame because it's a direct continuation of the story. It was an almost impossible task to outdo Apex but after spending quite a bit of time on my Abyss review I'm pretty skeptical about the future of the band from here on out. 

I'll have to see if I want to update anything about my Apex review, it's a few years old at this point. 

June 09, 2021 01:55 AM

I sit very much in the same boat as Vinny with the power metal genre in general but this release has smashed any expectations I may have had coming into it. In fact, I think it's just become my new favourite power metal record (at least as far as studio releases go as Iced Earth's "Alive In Athens" would still maintain the crown overall). This album is metal as fuck &, despite the fact that it sits very much on the US side of the power metal equation for the most part, I'd suggest that a decent point of reference would be Gamma Ray meets "Painkiller"-era Judas Priest. I absolutely love the shredding guitar tone, the slaying solos, the machine gun double kick drum & most of all those stunningly powerful vocals which have the ability to challenge even the true greats of melodic metal. I don't even mind the occasional vocal foray into extreme metal to tell you the truth.

There are certainly a few tracks that are instrumentally a little less impressive than others but Brittney Slayes manages to lift them up to much greater levels of appeal than they probably deserve through brilliantly executed harmonies, unwavering conviction & a total commitment to her craft. The lacklustre "Earth and Ashes" is probably the only song that she can't revive & the clean male vocals on that track are a big disappointment in comparison to his engaging front woman. Interestingly, while the record starts off pretty strongly, the middle of the tracklisting is where the real sweet spot is with the four track run from "Cleanse the Bloodlines" through to the killer album highlight "Ten Thousand Against One" leaving me thrashing around like it was my first time hearing high quality metal. As with the first few tracks, the album finishes with a couple of solid numbers that don't hit quite as hard as the outstanding mid-section however anyone even remotely into power metal should get right on this.


June 10, 2021 04:51 AM


I can tell that Unleash the Archers have some very good ideas on display with this album of theirs and I appreciate the craftsmanship being incorporated. For starters, I was very impressed by Brittney Slayes vocals; far too often women in high leverage positions in power and symphonic metal like to resort to highly operatic vocal timbres and tendencies. Which is why I found it so surprising when this album has none of that! the vocals are very comparable to Anneke van Giersbergen and this months featured release in the Fallen clan. In addition, Apex does have some very solid hooks provided by both the vocals as well as the lead guitar. My personal favourite is the major key change during the chorus of the opener "Awakening"; it was unexpected and remarkable. The instrumentals have a lot indebted to Iron Maiden, but they do have their own unique flare making them stand out amongst their influences.

That being said, I really wanted to like this more. Seeing all of these glowing reviews come before me leaves me in a very difficult situation where I have to point out that the production on this thing is terrible! You would think that for a band that is so heavily influenced by Iron Maiden and their specific brand of British Power Metal that this album would have something that resembled a bass line! Instead, the rhythm guitar is forced into doing all of the heavy lifting and it just doesn't work; the low end of this record is so gutted that any breakdowns on "Ten Thousand Against One" and "Earth and Ashes" are left feeling weightless. Contrary to popular belief, I do like a good breakdown, but it has to be implemented well and on this album, they just aren't.

And while the second half of this album does get a little more guitar heavy, I do find that many of the tunes start to blend together, with only "Call Me Immortal" and a drastic key change keeping the back end from falling off a cliff and making me want to turn the thing off. I know what this band was trying to do and I appreciate it... to a point. I know my score has a positivity bias because of their Victoria, BC residency, but this should have been a lot better.


June 10, 2021 04:33 PM

Daniel, if you are enamoured with IE's Alive in Athens I would strongly recommend the double disc set, Days of Purgatory (my particular favourite Iced Earth release). It features re-recorded versions of previous IE tracks with vocalist Matt Barlow who sings on Alive in Athens and it's songs  makes up most of the playlist of AiE.

June 10, 2021 06:54 PM
I swear, I don't do it on purpose and I really would like to be able to get into more power metal, but I just find my mind wandering when I try to listen to albums like this. I can tell that there is plenty of talent on display here and I have certainly heard far worse, but it just doesn't hold my attention like I would have hoped. For me power metal is very much an acquired taste and, in the main, I guess I just don't "get it".
June 10, 2021 10:40 PM

Daniel, if you are enamoured with IE's Alive in Athens I would strongly recommend the double disc set, Days of Purgatory (my particular favourite Iced Earth release). It features re-recorded versions of previous IE tracks with vocalist Matt Barlow who sings on Alive in Athens and it's songs  makes up most of the playlist of AiE.

Quoted Sonny

I'm very well versed with Iced Earth's 90's material Sonny but have to admit that I've somehow managed to overlook "Days Of Purgatory" despite enjoying the majority of their other albums from the period. I'll add it to the list so as to complete the set.