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September 23, 2020
What I'm Listening To: Music Recommendations for Global Minds
By Brian Heaton
AnybodyListening.net's focus is on Queensryche, primarily the band's original lineup and its music. But periodically, I'll blog about other artists. Specifically, albums and live shows from bands that I'm digging and think fellow Rychers will enjoy too.
10 Years – Violent Allies
10 Years' new album, Violent Allies, is rooted in progressive and alternative metal, infusing crushing metal riffs with lush melodies, providing an accessible, yet punishing musical landscape. The Knoxville, Tenn.-based group has been around for over 20 years, but their music always sounds inspired, and their new record is no exception.
Violent Allies takes the pop sensibilities of their 10 Years' last record, 2017's (How to Live) As Ghosts, but re-emphasizes the band's moodier, heavier side. The result is a great balance of the group's musical strengths, without sounding like they compromised on them. That's not to say vocalist Jesse Hasek and guitarists Brian Vodinh and Matt Wantland have sat on their laurels—far from it. They've experimented with leaner song structures, with most of the album's cuts clocking in around three minutes. The catch is, they've trimmed the fat without losing the band's musical integrity.
The first single, “The Shift,” encapsulates the vibe of Violent Allies perfectly, with the heaviness prevalent throughout the track, but enough space to let the song, not to mention the listener, breathe. Other standout favorites are “Cut the Cord,” and “Sleep in the Fire,” but the record is tied together in parts with the instrumental segues “Planets III” and “Planets IV,” making Violent Allies a true album experience.
Recommended for: Fans of TOOL, Sevendust, Coheed and Cambria.
Unleash the Archers – Abyss
It's hard enough to write a concept record that captivates a listener, much less release a sequel that lives up to the original. But that's what Unleash the Archers has done with Abyss, their new album that follows the highly regarded Apex from 2017.
The tale of “The Immortal” continues, centuries later, and Unleash the Archers has deftly supplemented the power metal sound of Apex with well-placed synthesizers and darker seven-string rhythm guitars to help push forward both the story and the band's own sonic evolution.
I won't ruin the storyline, but Abyss is just as adventurous as Apex, with “The Matriarch” again serving as the antagonist. Musically, however, Unleash the Archers continue to amaze with the soaring vocals of Brittney Slayes, the powerhouse drumming of Scott Buchanan and the twin guitar attack of Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley. The latter two are really gelling as a unit and showing differing skills that compliment one another and heighten the music, much like legendary tandems of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden), Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing (Judas Priest), Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton (Queensryche), and more recently, Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge).
I'd be remiss not talking about Slayes' vocals, however. Sure, she has range for days, and any fan of power metal will dig her hitting those stratospheric notes. But it's the toughness, character and depth of her voice that really gives Unleash the Archers an edge on their contemporaries. Particularly on Abyss, as the songs are more diverse, giving Brittney the ability to showcase how dynamic her voice is.
While Abyss is a concept record, and part two of a larger story, there are standout songs throughout the album. Of note is the title track, the ripping “Soulbound” and the epic “The Wind That Shapes the Land.” That said, I'd encourage people not to cherry pick. Queue up Apex and Abyss back-to-back and listen to the entire adventure. It's a great ride that Unleash the Archers should be immensely proud of.
Recommended for: Fans of power metal, Helloween, early Queensryche.