Unleash the Archers - Time Stands Still (Napalm Records)

Behold... the new Metal Queen!

My word, there’s a lot o’ good stuff emanating from the Great White North these days, and the latest slab of metallic goodness heading our way from Canada comes in the shape of Time Stands Still from Toronto-based power metallers Unleash the Archers.

Basically, anything is permissible in Archerland, as long as it fits within the framework of a thunderous power metal skin. After a suitably portentous cod-symphonic opening (it’s amazing to think I expected anything else), those careening, Maiden-meets-Helloween axes spill from the speakers and we’re away, carried forth on a tide of Frozen Steel courtesy of some fabulous wailing from vocalist Brittney ‘Slays’ Hayes; It’s like listening to a twenty first century Lee Aaron, as this latest in a long line of Canuck metal queens lets rip. 

If you liked Kobra Page’s work on any of the Kobra and the Lotus albums then you’ll lap up the work of Hayes, who is utterly and completely the real deal. Musically, Unleash the Archers are hard to fault too, with the twin axes of Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley well up in the mix – a good thing, as their playing is top-notch throughout – and an efficient engine room (hello, then, Scott Buchanan and Kyle Sheppard on drums and bass respectively) laying it down in adamantine fashion.

Hail of the Tide mixes things up, adding blastbeats and death grunts to the mix, whilst the simultaneously excellent and ludicrous Tonight We Ride finds Hayes operating at the top of her range, supported by some ridiculous gang vocalising. Did I say ridiculous? I did. But it’s such a good song you laugh with rather than at UtA… honestly. See the vid below if you don't find my story plausible...

Next track Test Your Metal is a gonzoid crowd-pleasing anthem for the ages, nothing more, nothing less; However the standout track on this album has to be Crypt, a frankly gargantuan piece of heavy metal brilliance that fits more ideas into its five minute duration than most bands will manage in ten times that time, and carries with it a memorable chorus to boot. Buchanan plays himself into the ground on the song’s mid section, and once again both guitarists blaze away like men possessed. Shoehorn another Maidenesque ‘whoah-oh’ vocal section into the song as well and what you’re left with is a fabulous cornucopia of tuneful heaviness.

No More Heroes isn’t quite up to that mark, and probably suffers from having to follow Crypt, but it has it’s moments, whilst next track Dreamcrusher drags slightly due to it’s nine-minute-plus duration, but things perk up at the end with the excellent Going Down Fighting and the closing title track upping the ante once again.

Unleash the Archers aren’t getting everything right with Time Stands Still, but the album is still one of the more enjoyable power metal albums I’ve heard this year. And with more songs of the quality of Tonight We Ride, and Crypt, who knows where their journey might end?

Time Stands Still is out now.