Vancouver, Canada’s Unleash the Archers took themselves to a new level with 2015’s Time Stands Still album. On June 2, they will release their fourth full-length studio effort, Apex, that finds the quintet pushing themselves even farther. Apex is the band’s first concept record with the current line-up which features co-founders Brittney Slayes (vocals) and Scott Buchanan (drums), along with guitarist Grant Truesdell who joined for the group’s 2012 EP, Defy the Skies. Guitarist Andrew Kingsley Saunders, a former bandmate with Truesdell, joined for Time Stands Still, and bassist Nikko Wentworth makes his recording debut with Unleash the Archers on Apex. This week Metalholic and Metal Nation Radio connected with Slayes to chat about the new album, recording in Denmark with producer Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Pretty Maids, Týr), and their 10-year anniversary.
You always want to say every album you make is your best, but I have to say, Apex really feels like you hit a home run.
“You can’t help but think your newest is your best. I’m of no mind that it’s the best we’re ever going to do, of course. I feel like we still have a lot of potential and a lot of room to grow, and a lot of writing to do. It turned out kind of as we planned. We’re really proud of it, and we’re excited to hear what everybody else thinks. We did try some new things, but really what we did for the most part was just kind of took Time Stands Still and polished it up a little bit. We are still are taking little bits from genres that we love and mixing and matching here and there and just playing what we like and what makes us happy, including a few catchy choruses. We’re really stoked on it.”
This is a concept album about the Immortal and the Matriarch, how did that concept evolve?
“It started with the two main characters. I came up with the Immortal as a character before I had written anything for the story concept. He was kind of the driving force behind the record. What was his story going to be? What was the adventure we were going to follow him on? So I came up with this background story: He’s like a tool, really. He’s never lived his own life. He’s never been free. He’s always serving someone else. He was cured from the beginning to just serve other’s purposes. So he sleeps for many years at a time, because he is the Immortal, and when he’s awake it’s because he’s been awakened by someone so that they can use him to do evil, or make war or peace, or whatever it is that they happen to be aiming for. In this album, he’s awakened by the Matriarch, and she needs him to find her four sons and bring them to her so she can kill them in this crazy ritual to obtain immortality.”
With each album you guys have grown, and you always push yourself musically. Beyond the lyrical theme, did you have any goals for this album that you set to expand your sound?
“We were kind of like; ‘Well we’ve never done a song like this, so let’s do that. And we’ve never done a song like this, so let’s do that.’ For the most part, we let the story guide us, and we let it decide what riffs would stay and what riffs would go, and how each song would turn out. Before we started writing anything I put the story into chapters. So each track is basically a chapter. We used that as a guideline to write by. For instance, I would say, this track is really fast and triumphant, but there’s also this underlying sense of foreboding. Or, this one needs to be really dark and heavy, cause this is the one where we talk about killing her sons, and that kind of thing. So I would kind of explain what it’s about and why it needs to feel a certain way, and then how I felt we could go about accomplishing that. Musically we were just doing what we felt like doing at the time, and trying stuff out. It’s just what we are always seeking to do; like different genres that we’ve heard, or influences that we have at the time, and let’s try and incorporate that.”
You can check out the full interview with Brittney below and pick up Apex on June 2 through Napalm Records.