Unleash The Archers - Defy The Skies (EP) (2012)






Spanning the gap between various forms of metal, Vancouver based Unleash The Archers aren't new to bending the rules. With all of the aggression of blackened death metal, but all of the grace and intricacies of traditional power metal, this five piece are anything but conventional. Frontwoman Brittney Slayes isn't walking the line that so many female vocalists before her have, choosing to go outside the proverbial box and deliver a performance that is more than basic sultry vocal patterns. What you are left with is a finished product that is both polished and raw, beautiful and frightening, and done with all the savvy of a seasoned veteran. On their new EP, the three song offering titled "Defy The Skies," they throw the rule book out the window.

From the early, quieter moments of "The Path Unsought," any doubt of the talent Slayes has is shattered, her voice carrying a melody with little to no backing. But at the first drop of the hammer, you can hear so much more. Rolling double kicks, quick fire guitars and her soaring vocals form a trifecta of power metal tenets. Harsh backing vocals, provided by guitarist Brayden Dyczkowski, are the perfect contrast to the versatile lead. The true genius here is in the writing, incorporating thrash styled breakdowns, and downright scary male vocal passages. With musicianship that is virtually flawless, it makes it easy for the song to ebb and flow, growing and shrinking in scope over the course of five minutes, culminating in a repeating chorus as the track fades.

Wasting no time for pleasantries, "Upon Ashen Wings" comes out of the gate roaring, with lightning fast riffs dominating the mix. But between high register cries from Slayes, there is something much deeper brewing. The rhythm section is hitting all the right spots, with a rich bass line laying just underneath the layers of guitars. Drummer Scott Buchanan leaves no stone unturned, filling every available gap with a smooth roll or blasting fill. The two come together to lead the breakdown movement, joined by solo work that is both impressive, and functional. Rather than just playing fast, both Dyczkowski and Grant Truesdell add an extra dose of technical craftsmanship to the track. And much like the previous track, there is something inherently catchy about the way everything is pieced together, leaving you wanting so much more. By the time you reach "Soulstorm," you may already be thoroughly satisfied with what you have heard thus far. With a run time that is half that of the previous two, this one is a blazing foray into accessible heavy metal. The thunderous gallop of guitars and drums puts the pedal to the metal, while Slayes rich harmony gives a layer of shine to the black metal inspired screeching that lurks behind.

Sad to say, but it has become all too common to make assumptions on the style of a band, simply because of the gender of their lead singer. True, there are a lot more Within Temptation's out there than there are Arch Enemy's. Unleash The Archers, however, defy that stereotype, and defy genre tagging in general. Slayes and company are building something special here, something that could help to drag conventional metalheads kicking and screaming into a new dynasty. They have taken all of the style and grace that comes with having a female lead, and smashed head first into versatile and complex song writing, leaving behind any doubts of their skill. The three songs on "Defy The Skies" may be the start of something big.

8.5/10

Official Site - http://www.unleashthearchers.com/
Bandcamp - http://unleashthearchers.bandcamp.com/