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Love Pumping Iron to This - 87%

newengland7, January 11th, 2020

When I work out, I need aggressive music. One of the bands I go to is Unleash the Archers (UTA) and this album is filled with aggression. From blast-beat drumming, to power-chord riffing, to shredding guitar solos throughout, this album lends one of the most entertaining albums on my work-out playlist. UTA puts together one of the most harmonious quintets in speed metal. The album has you "Test Your Metal" throughout its entire duration.

One of the musical styles I've been intrigued by lately is melodic death metal. UTA follows a more Gothenburg-style influence, especially in their earlier days. The influence isn't as entirely prevalent on this album as I would have preferred. Truesdell provides the strong, cougar-sounding, guttural growls that are one of the trademark vocal styles of the melodic death metal scene. That is really the only major influence of melodic death metal they bring here. It leans more toward a traditional style following the NWOBHM scene than the death metal carry-overs. I still would mark this on a melodic death metal playlist if only for the strong, noticeable influences that it carries from the genre.

The power-chord riffs grind at you from the first track onward. The opening track, which I would consider "Frozen Steel", slams in after the intro, which I would consider "The Northern Passage", to a strong, bellowing groan on the guitar and then it proceeds to add on the drums, back to some strong power-chord riffs, until finally Slayes adds her strong vocals into the mix and it takes you into a musical adventure "[b]eyond the tundra and past the sea". The solos on this album are incredibly sick with massive fretting and shred work. One note follows another and constantly progresses toward a climax until reaching the falling action in the closing choruses of each song. I would honestly listen to this work just for the guitar solos.

The drum work is impressive combining Scott Buchanan's technique of double-bass drumming with the typical blast-beat drumming prevalent in the more extreme metal genres. "Tonight We Ride" opens up with his drumming. "Crypt" features a heavy combination of his drumming with the power-chord riffs of Truesdell and Kingsley. Buchanan slows down on "Going Down Fighting" in the intro but as the song begins to really start, he slams it on again. His drumming really provides the heaviest feel to the album.

When I first heard Slayes, my reaction was simply, "my God! She can sing!" Her vocals are the highest I've ever heard. But unlike most vocalists on hitting high notes who may have to depend on falsettos to reach them, her vocals remain crisp and natural. I could not believe that any one could hit the notes that she reached in "Tonight We Ride" when I first heard that song. That was beautiful! Normally, I don't prefer female metal singers, but UTA has made a great complement in Slayes's vocal styles. It is natural, crisp, and clean, yet also capable of a wide range. The choral element in "Time Stands Still", the title track, really provides a neat contrast between her higher vocal range and the male chorus's lower vocal range which creates a more dramatic effect to the apocalyptic themed song.

To be honest, I was expecting a harder album from a band that is influenced greatly by melodic death metal and even throws in the death-growls into their music. That is why I was a tad bit disappointed in this album. But as a speed metal album, it is an excellent combination of thrilling guitar solos, heavy drumming, and crisp, clean singing.