by David Boyle
Unleash the Archers, a Canada-based band (Vancouver, B.C.), has reignited my heavy-metal fascination. Since its inception in 2007, the quintet, featuring Brittney Slayes (vocals), Scott Buchanan (drums), Grant Truesdell (guitar, vocals), Andrew Kingsley (guitar, vocals), and Nikko Whitworth (bass), has been building a devout fan base, and fast. I had never heard of Unleash the Archers until I happened on them on Youtube while looking up a prominent band from my childhood years, a time when I myself owned a bleached denim jacket (patches front and back), wore concert shirts, and had on my shelves, in my car, and everywhere else an extensive and eclectic collection of cassettes.
Unleash the Archers’ dynamic sound and style—progressive, theatrical, multilayered, versatile—immediately stirred my attention, calling to mind a number of similar 80’s bands: Queensryche, TNT, Skid Row, Heart, Dokken, Dio, Manowar, Stryper, Whitesnake, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden, to name some esteemed veterans. The catchy, unpredictable guitar and bass riffs, the hard-driving drums enhanced by the throbbing double bass, the soaring low- and high-range vocals—these standout components coalesce to form and animate Unleash the Archers’ distinctive onslaught. Having all my life been particularly riveted by clear, unique rock voices, I first and foremost heard in Slayes’s delivery elements reminiscent of erstwhile Queensryche frontman Geoff Tate, a vocal icon, who, in terms of power, range, enunciation, control, and overall showmanship, was, to my mind, untouchable in his heyday.
And if what I’ve seen and heard of Slayes is any indication of what is to come as she and her mighty band grow and experiment, I and their legions of followers will have a great deal to celebrate. Their videos reveal a mature, level-headed collective of musicians whose songs when played live sound much like the studio versions—no easy feat, I imagine, considering how many bands struggle on stage to reproduce with accuracy their studio recordings. Check out “Awakening,” “Time Stands Still,” and “Test Your Metal,” for example, and draw your own conclusions. No doubt you’ll hear for yourself the precision I admire. The only aspect of Unleash the Archers’ musicianship that doesn’t appeal to me, though, is what’s commonly referred to as “death-metal growling.” The sound is done skillfully, mind you, though, as mentioned earlier, I’ve always had a strong affinity for clean vocals.
Comprised of first-rate players who have cultivated a fresh and compelling sound that has garnered the attention of listeners of all ages around the world, Unleash the Archers is a band charging ahead, inspired to the fullest, determined to forge their own path to the musical summit, however they as a group wish to define it. They have already succeeded, as is evident, and will continue to prosper and sustain their edge for years to come—a prediction based on intuition and, perhaps, I must concede, on an inborn hunger to recapture an era of my life when I first discovered the true meaning of hard rock and heavy metal, when it was nothing short of exhilarating to open a cassette case, examine the artwork, and read and contemplate the lyrics while the songs heightened your senses, boosted your adrenaline, and left you not only hypnotized but submerged in a state of profound awe and wonder. I’ve always considered myself fortunate to have grown up when I did, though I still refuse to grow up entirely.
If memory serves, I hadn’t purchased a CD for a good many years, maybe even a decade or more. That, in a fast-moving world—in a world where the majority (though not I) prefer digital to hard copy—is a long, long time. But having discovered Unleash the Archers, I enthusiastically broke the streak and purchased Apex (Napalm Records, 2017), their newest release and I look forward to digging into more of their catalog. I wish the band luck, and I hope they come to my area sometime soon. I’d like very much to attend a show—and to watch them conflate the unfettered power and talent for which they are renowned and revered by fans and fellow musicians alike.
Discover Unleash the Archers for yourself – if you haven’t already – at www.unleashthearchers.com.
David Boyle | www.facebook.com/authordavidboyle