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Melodic death metal has become ever a more important genre for me, both because I continuously find themes more applicable to my life, and because I grow to appreciate and tolerate the musical style more. In recent times, Unleash The Archers has become a prime example of my newfound enjoyment of the genre, as well as being home to one of my favorite female lead singers in metal, the unabashedly fun-loving and talented Brittney Hayes. The brazenly titled Demons Of The AstroWaste may sound like an adventure in science fiction whimsy (and ok, maybe some of it is), but the musicianship here is extremely capable, and better than the casual glance at the cover and title would indicate.
In some places, I see Unleash The Archers described as power metal, and I suppose that some may see this as true. The lead vocals of Hayes are primarily clean, but there are frequent breaks for harsh vocals, as well as harsh doubling the cleans on many occasions. On top of having a bold voice that is consistently tuneful (and at its best when she’s high or rough) and a great fit for the band’s fairly aggressive style, Hayes does some excellent self-harmonizing on multiple tracks (most notably “City Of Iron” and “Daughters Of Winterstone”). The harsh vocals are not my favorite, but I’ve heard much worse. The combination of black shrieks, death growling, and harsh yells is fairly unexceptional, but despite some occasional metalcore leanings (slight, at that), they do not detract overly much from the music
Demons Of The AstroWaste is a combination sci-fi/fantasy concept album, but since I’ve purchased the album digitally and have yet to get a hardcopy, I can’t really comment on the effectiveness of the lyrics just yet. Musically, however, this runs the gamut from decent melo-death to some of the hookiest tunes I’ve ever heard. Opener “Dawn Of Ages”, aside from setting the stage for the story, lets loose with one of 2011’s favorite power metal singles (as far as I’m concerned, at least). No harsh vocals here, just sheer power of melody, a chorus that slays, and a frenzied pace to set it all afire. Some of the other strongest tracks include “The Realm Of Tomorrow”, “Daughters Of Winterstone”, and “Ripping Through Time”, but the crowning glory of this album is “City Of Iron” in my eyes: boasting a fantastic high harmonized vocal hook to launch the whole bit, and a sweeping chorus that I can’t get out of my head no matter how I try.
What’s bad about this album can be summed up as mostly nitpicking. I don’t like the slight –core leanings, but I forgive them, since this is rather entertaining on the whole. The band has a notion of being very “epic” (read: sci fi theme and longer songs), and whether or not the band intentionally elongates their songs or not, they do get a little bit old after a while (well, some of them, anyways). By and large, however, that’s the extent of my negative comments, and by all accounts, this is a highly entertaining album.
Unleash The Archers could well be a gateway band for many people (and probably is for those who have seen them live in Canada), but they’re quite a good item in their own right. For fans of melodic death and power metal alike, I suggest Demons Of The AstroWaste, wherein lies great enthusiasm and tons of splendidly catchy tunes.
Original review written for Black Wind Metal
Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, Unleash the Archers brings a new flavor to the standard European power metal sound. Infusing newer elements such as breakdown, poppy sections, and a combination between female singing and death metal vocals that actually works well (however, the aforementioned poppy sections do not work so well).
'Demons of the AstroWaste' combines these elements into what I can only guess is a concept album, albeit a poorly done one. The music itself is oftentimes moving and wonderful, but the cut/paste feeling the interweaving interludes and soundscapes gives does not compliment the music. Had they cut out these pointless and trying intros & outros I would have given this album a much higher score, but they constantly pull you out of the listening experience with messy sound effects and poorly done voice acting. I wouldn't give this problem so much credit, but these passages are so prevalent throughout the album that they practically demand to be given attention (for better or for worse). These interludes come at the intro, and ends of tracks 3, 4, 6, and 9.
Concerning the actual music, however, everything seems quite well done. Each song offers a hook, something by which to be remembered. The album may be a little front-loaded, as the first five tracks are certainly the most memorable. After a pointless intro we get into "Dawn of Ages" which sets the overall tone for the album: catchy choruses, singing and screaming complimenting each other well, and pleasant, dancing guitar leads. The drums are nothing great, but they do the job. Aside from a rather poppy passage (4:01) this is a great track and opener.
Easily the highlight of this album is "General of the Dark Army", the intro is haunting and beautiful and the progression of the song is natural and powerful. Here we see death metal vocals and singing used to their fullest potential to convey maximum emotion. This song is the tipping point on the album, as from this point on the rest of the album is well done but not as verse, chorus, verse, chorus driven as the first five songs. Tracks like "Despair" and "City of Iron" really shine musically.
'Demons of the AstroWaste' drags on a little too long and is a failed attempt at connecting all the songs together in a cohesive, believable concept album. All these detractors aside, this is a solid album with a lot of enjoyable new power metal. Let's hope that their third outing will prove a little more mature and focused. Much potential here, and I'd recommend it to anyone with a taste for catchy power metal.
Album highlights: "General of the Dark Army", "Realm of Tomorrow", "Despair", and "City of Iron"
Quite some time ago I reviewed the debut album of Canada's Unleash the Archers. I praised their unselfconscious brand of power/thrash/melo-death because of its balls-out intensity, catchy songs, and the powerful singing of frontwoman Brittney Hayes. She remembered that positive review, and provided me with a copy of their sophomore effort, Demons of the AstroWaste. The prospect of any improvement in this already excellent band had me practically frothing at the mouth.
Then I listened to it, and was reminded of the so-called sophomore slump. It's not that the new album is bad. The elements of great singing, great riffs, catchy choruses, and high intensity are all still there. Some of the songs are great, too. The metalcore leanings I mentioned in the first review have been emphasized, but that's not necessarily such a bad thing. But there is something different, and in a bad way.
Unleash the Archers seem to have latched onto that growing trend sometimes called "epic metal". It's not necessarily a new genre per se, and the term has existed to describe any kind of metal that happens to be epic for quite some time. But some bands are now using the term to describe a style that draws from a variety of genres (especially metalcore, prog, and power metal). Bands of this ilk intend to create something that serves the same purpose to a young American (and apparently Canadian) audience that power metal serves to the European audience. And I like it about as well as I like European power metal, which is to say, not very often.
Demons of the AstroWaste fits perfectly into the "epic metal" subset with longer-than-necessary, dramatic songs making up what seems to be a concept album about some kind of sci-fi struggle. The resulting hour-long album is not nearly as tight or entertaining as its 40 minute predecessor.
Given that my review copy was at a low bit-rate, I can't really comment on the production. I hope those bass drops sound better at higher quality.
The Verdict: In my eyes, Unleash the Archers seem to have fallen into the sophomore slump, and I hope they come out of it. On the other hand, there seems to be a growing audience for the direction they've taken, so perhaps they'll be successful because of it. But I just ask one thing of all you "epic metal" bands out there: just call yourselves power metal, because that's what it really is.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/