Apex explained track-by-track! [UPDATED] @UnleashArchers @NapalmRecords

Recently I highlighted the excellence of Apex, the new heavy metal concept album from Unleash the Archers, and I supplied you with some links for reading about it.

For a detailed track-by-track explanation, here’s the band’s amazing vocalist, Brittney Slayes, taking you through the story.

How great is it that in the age of YouTube we get video supplements as liner notes?! Wow… enjoy… and remember to follow me to Apex



Unleash the Archers delivers superb concept album Apex @UnleashArchers @BrittneyPotPie

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The new album from Unleash the Archers, Apex, is truly impressive. But you already know that if you have read my review or listened to it for yourself.

Yet what I left out of my review was an explanation of the concept album’s full story extending from the first track to the last track. In that regard, the excellent review over at Angry Metal Guy is the best thing you can read, because it nicely details how the storyline unfolds and is perfectly realized in the music (which fits it like a glove).

If you’re a progger who needs an entry point through one song, try downloading just “False Walls” and listen to it again and again until you are hooked. I guarantee that you will find the excellence of the musicianship to be truly stunning.

Well, the whole album is that good. And the integrity of the epic storyline will have you thinking that this just might be the prog album of the year, because the whole album is in effect one gigantic epic song that deals in mythical archetypes. It’s so good that as you listen to it you can imagine it being realized cinematically as a full-length movie.

Follow me to Apex!

Chris Cornell, Existential Theologian

Christianity Today had a great analysis of some Chris Cornell lyrics back when they reviewed the first Audioslave album:

“In your house I long to be/Room by room patiently/I’ll wait for you there like a stone/I’ll wait for you there alone”
— from “Like a Stone”

The album’s single “Like a Stone” has enough content to warrant its own essay. The chorus (excerpted above) is a strong plea for salvation and to be in God’s presence. No doubt many will be hung up on the lyric, “On my deathbed I will pray to the gods and the angels/Like a pagan to anyone who will take me to heaven.” In the song’s context, however, it seems more like a desperate plea than an actual strategy or worldview, akin to the rich man asking Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Chris also qualifies it with the contrite third verse, “And on I read until the day was gone/And I sat in regret of all the things I’ve done/For all that I’ve blessed and all that I’ve wronged.”

It’s not the only faith–inspired track on the album. The prayerful “Show Me How to Live” is fairly self–explanatory: “Nail in my hand from my creator/You gave me life, now show me how to live.” One of the album’s softer tracks, “I Am the Highway,” could be interpreted as what God is and isn’t–present in everything and bigger than we imagine: “I am not your rolling wheels/I am the highway/I am not your carpet ride/I am the sky/I am not your blowing wind/I am the lightning/I am not your autumn moon/I am the night.”

“Exploder” illustrates how spiritual freedom helps us reconcile the hurts of a sinful world, and “Hypnotize” reminds us to show love and compassion to our fellow man. The most stunning example of faith comes in “Light My Way,” which at times rivals most other prayerful anthems you hear in Christian music: “In my hour of need, on a sea of gray/On my knees I pray to you/Help me find the dawn of the dying day/Won’t you light my way.” Some even wonder about the album’s cover, incorporating the band’s logo of a fire blaze. Maybe it’s just my Christian worldview, but it strongly reminds me of an extremely huge representation of Moses and the burning bush.

Rock is dead? Long live rock!

Pete Townshend had it right years ago: “Rock is dead, they say… long live rock!”

Now there’s a good essay — “For The Last Time: Rock Is Not Dead, You’re Just Not Paying Attention” — by Steven Hyden. Read the whole thing. It builds inexorably to this excellent conclusion:

All music should be appreciated on its own terms. Pop shouldn’t be a zero-sum game, in which you’re either an uber-famous celebrity or an irrelevant nobody stuck in a dead genre. Maybe we can find a little more room to praise the pop star and lionize the underground hero.

In the meantime, this pile of great new undead rock records isn’t going to play itself. Let’s dive in.

Prog on, chillun!

Unleash the Archers at the absolute Apex of today’s metal @UnleashArchers @BrittneyPotPie

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Apex is the unbelievably impressive new album from Unleash the Archers. It starts triumphantly with an epic seven-minute-plus track, “Awakening,” a heroic kick-in-the-doors and burn-down-the-house entrance that lets you know in no uncertain terms that there’ll be no nonsense on this disc, only a whole lot of awesome. It sets the right tone from the get-go, with awesome riffing over galloping verses and righteously headbanging choruses.

The second track, “Shadow Guide,” has a brisk old-school metal feel to it, as vocalist Brittney Slayes again takes no prisoners. And then the third track, “The Matriarch,” continues with the unusually high standard of metal excellence established by the two opening tracks. At this point, you wonder how long this album can keep up such a high level of rip-roaring metal.

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With “Cleanse the Bloodlines,” things are still pretty excellent, but the dopey video previously released for the track has tainted the tune for me. Also, it has a creepily fascist track title. Yet it is undeniable that Brittney is positively thrilling with her vocals beginning right at the three-minute mark and with the excellent tension woven by the guitar riffage. Oh well, it’s a concept album, with a character speaking, not a statement from the band, so resistance is futile.

The next five tracks are all superb: “The Cowards’ Way” chugs along thanks to some magnificently mighty bass propulsion power. “False Walls” kills it with blistering riffs knitting together a more laid-back approach, as head-banging choruses alternate with head-nodding verses. We are treated to a most satisfying guitar solo that slips in coolly after about six minutes of preparation. “Ten Thousand Against One” pummels you with bad-cop kick-drumming and death growls, and good-cop ethereal vocals. “Earth and Ashes” mercifully lets you catch your breath for a minute as acoustic guitars do some dueling with the bass guitar, but just when you’ve been faked out, the track gets the album to rip back into you again with relentless fury. Later on, a surprise vocal duet suddenly steers us into a really sweet guitar solo break that circles the earth for a while and then blasts off into hyperspace. Whew! Next up, “Call Me Immortal” does right by any listener who seeks metal excellence. This is such a great track, I can’t believe they saved it and placed it in penultimate position on the album. How cool is that. It just might be my favorite song, next to the album opener and closer. Excellence is always immortal, and here it is too in spades.

When the album concludes with the amazingly sprawling and superbly-paced guitar-feast “Apex” (track 10), there is no escaping the conclusion that this is the very best effort to date from Unleash the Archers. They have established themselves as a truly standout metal act. Brittney slays the competition and her band mates have honed their musical skills to an apex of metal perfection. Permit me to give the apposite last word to Brittney and the band by quoting their truly thrilling grand finale of a last track: “Follow me… to Apex!”

Progarchist rating: ★★★★★ 10/10 A+

Unleash the Archers, Apex