"Phantoma is a rare beast - a concept album both intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant." Unleash The Archers prove they're one of the most vital power metal bands in the game right now

Unleash The Archers step it up with a futuristic, conceptually dense power metal epic

Unleash The Archers
(Image: © Shimon Karmel)

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Returning with their most ambitious outing yet, these ascendant Canadian power metallers arrive hell-bent on proving that the many accolades rained down upon 2020’s Abyss were both richly-deserved and an augury of future output. With Phantoma, Unleash The Archers have pointedly succeeded on both counts.

Phantoma not only scales metal’s towering peaks with majestic riffs, exhilarating solos and Brittney Slayes’ powerhouse vocals, but it delves into the shadowy depths of a more sophisticated and electronically-infused sound. Thematically, Phantoma is a concept album centred around the idea of AI gaining sentience in a bleak, dystopian world. It’s a plot as old as computers, but Phantoma transcends such dogeared tropes by melding actual AI into their songwriting process, yielding a multi-faceted modern metal soundscape with intricate thematic nuances and a sonic depth that speaks directly to today’s techno-existential dilemmas. 

Sonically, the band again synthesise multiple metal genres into a powerful collection that’s both melodic and at times, gaspingly brutal. Human Era introduces the futuristic wasteland as a vision of desolation, building into the relentless surge of Ph4/NT0mA — a showcase of blazing metallic precision, with the guitars locked in ferocious interplay alongside Slayes’ commanding vocals. As the narrative arc darkens, Buried In Code emerges as a call-to-arms draped in power metal finery, while pulsating synthwave tracks like Gods In Decay cut an evocative contrast to Give It Up Or Give It All, an arresting ballad that serves as a vessel for the emotional complexity of the human-AI nexus. Phantoma ends with the chest-pounding trilogy of Ghosts In The Mist, Seeking Vengeance and the triumphant Blood Empress — a tapestry of defiance, melancholy and revelation.

Phantoma is a rare beast in the metal kingdom — a concept album that manages to be both intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant, a whirlwind journey through a digital dreamscape that reflects our fractured world back at us, distorted, yet undeniably real. Packed with endless riffs and rousing choruses, Phantoma dares the listener to consider a future forged in the crucible of technology, where the question, “What does it mean to be truly human?’ becomes increasingly difficult to answer.

Phantoma is out Friday May 10 via Napalm

Joe Daly

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.