UNLEASH THE ARCHERS “Abyss” (2020)

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Finally the new album is out and UTA have named it “Abyss” which will continue the story arc that they had already begun on previous albums.
The last record “Apex” was a milestone and an album of such a magnitude that it will probably take years for the band itself to realise it in its entirety. The guitarist duo Andy & Grant were exceptionally on fire and heavily inspired. With Andy they hit the jackpot anyway as he is a massively talented guy who can also play in many different genres. Plus to that he is a great singer as well and adds some clean vocals to the new album “Abyss” as well as he already had on “Apex”.
It was clear to me that “Apex” would be hard to beat. You can also feel the pressure on “Abyss” the guys felt themselves to come up with an equally good album.
To go to the pros and cons:
Pros: The album is fully of great ideas and complex songs. Also Brittney was not shying away from leaving her comfort zone, vocal-wise, and was trying a few new and different things. She seems to have realised herself now too that she sounds great even in the lower register and that there is no need to only dwell on the high pitch notes all the time.
The songs are well arranged, very well thought out and technically brilliantly played and recorded. But I will come to this point again in a bit.
Cons:
The album makes a slight shift towards a bit more melodic areas and to some it could sound a bit more commercial than “Apex”. This is also supported through the mix which at times let the rhythm guitars almost drown in the background. If you listen through some good speakers or good headphones you can clearly tell that the producer tried to slightly emphasize on vocals more than on guitar riffs. “Apex” had a far more aggressive rhythm guitar/drum backing which was much more prominent in the mix.
The harmony sections and leads are at times almost too playful and too fussy in a way. I know that Andy loves these things but it can be easily exaggerated and then it can spoil the fun.
As mentioned above, you somehow can tell the pressure the guys felt and despite it they came up with a great record. But you can tell it was not the same experience for Andy and Grant as with “Apex” where there was incredible musicianship, power, riffs, solos, great melody arcs and all in perfect proportion. You can still feel that the guitar players try to true to the original style of music and way of playing that the original guy started with and he had set the bar very high indeed.

So all in all “Abyss” is a doubtlessly a great record with a very good production and great songs. But it does not come close to “Apex” in terms of quality, songs, sound and inspiration.

7/10

Unleash The Archers – Abyss (Napalm Records)