Fittingly for an album that contains a song called The Matriarch, Unleash the Archers have their own Boudicca in Brittney Slayes. Shooting affirmations into the ether with a triumphant ‘Never die!’ on Awakening or beckoning us to ‘Gather your shields and your swords’ on the ballsyTen Thousand Against One, she sounds like a heavy metal version of Heart’s Ann Wilson battling against the tempest of thundering drums and gutsy riffs. Apex presents a band who have grown exponentially in the last two years. Leaving behind the speed metal shred and screech of 2015’s Time Stands Still, it gives the drums and bass more presence, revealing a maturation in Slayes’ vocals as the whole delivers sheer power and melody. False Walls is an exercise in the epic and The Coward’s Way rallies the troops around the sonic bluster of a choir. Drawing upon the quick-fire assault of Dragonforce with a few falsettos chucked in and the clean smooth solos and riffs of Arch Enemy, Apex proves UTA could sit comfortably on any power, Viking or symphonic metal bill.
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