Time Stands Still — Unleash the Archers
Progarchist Rating: ★★★★★ [10/10]
I’ve been listening to this new release for a few weeks now and it just gets more impressive and more enjoyable with deeper familiarity. What a stunning achievement by this hugely talented Canadian heavy metal band:
Brittney Slayes – vocals
Scott Buchanan – drums
Grant Truesdell – guitar, death metal vocals
Andrew Kingsley – guitar, death metal vocals
Kyle Sheppard – bass
The first track (“Northern Passage”) is a brief, atmospheric overture that hardly prepares you for the onslaught to come, but it does succeed in evocation of an epic mood and preparing your imagination for a panoramic cinematic scope.
Then the next three tracks take you into some serious head banging with jaw-dropping musicianship, as unusually nimble and supremely tasty guitar work dances over top of the relentless rhythmic propulsions:
2. Frozen Steel
3. Hail Of The Tide
4. Tonight We Ride
Brittney shows herself to be Canada’s new reigning metal queen (move over, Lee Aaron), and she commands and deploys what seems to be an army of orcs and Gollums with death metal vocals at her musical service. I’ve never heard death metal vocals used in such a musical fashion as part of an intelligently arrayed musical arsenal of colors and flavors. It’s very effective and the trio of these first three tracks should have a wide appeal to metal heads of all stripes. As for me, given my own proggy tastes, it’s the next three tracks, surprisingly varied from what has gone before them, that take things to a whole new level and give me the trio of tunes that I always look forward to most whenever I hear this album:
5. Test Your Metal
7. No More Heroes
“Test Your Metal” is fantastic old-school awesomeness that attains upper-echelon anthem status.
But then “Crypt” seems to come out of nowhere with it sinister opening riffage and begins what is arguably the greatest track on the album; it goes through so many interesting changes and musical transmutations that I am in awe of its sophisticated narrative scope: it begins in what definitely sounds like the underworld, but then breaks out above ground into a dazzling resurrected landscape swirling in sunlight.
“No More Heroes” continues painting with a diverse palette and distinguishes the album from the merely ordinary realm of metal. There’s so much musical intelligence built into this you will be hard pressed to name other bands that have ever attained this level of supremacy. Rush comes to mind, indeed, perhaps because of each outfit’s Canadian origins, but certainly because of each outfit’s distinctively outstanding musical talents.
The final trio of tracks begins with “Dreamcrusher,” which is probably the one track that denizens of Progarchy should download, if they want to sample some Unleash the Archers. Clocking in at 9:16, it has the full-length scope affording wide play for the best sensibilities that prog fans gravitate towards, and it begins with strings and nuance, and then into some trademark blistering riffs, and then some atmospheric guitar work with more strings action, and then… it just keeps unfolding into epic variation and everything amazing that Unleash the Archers can do but seemingly no one else can (if they can, then where are they?).
9. Going Down Fighting
10. Time Stands Still
“Going Down Fighting” brings the dazzling complexities of the album back to a nice mix of old-school, hook-laden accessibility. It proffers indomitable assertion, but again mixed with unusually distinctive musical skill and nuances: apparently, the musical speciality of Unleash the Archers.
“Time Stands Still” is the rousing title track with its anthemic beer hall chorus kicking things off, sung by an army of loyal soldiers on (or ready for) the march. Brittney then breaks in and proceeds to sing the lyrics with such powerful conviction on this song that, unexpectedly, when she gets to the line, “Rebuild! History can only be written by the victors! And we will write it all!” (letting loose with her piercing war-cry screams on all sides), the listener is truly roused by this warrior princess. Her troops mobilize, abandoning the solar system to move on to conquer other galaxies. Where do we enlist?
“We finally have won!” she sings in the album’s closing line, and truer words have never been sung by any epic sci-fi metal outfit, for with this amazing album, Unleash the Archers have released their greatest and most accomplished album to date. It’s an album for the ages, destined to be recognized in time for its blisteringly definitive achievement. You won’t be able to stand still, or otherwise contain your excitement. And why should you? Let Unleash the Archers unleash their awesomeness. Play it loud!