without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
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/