THE ABYSS: CATASTROPHE OR SAVIOUR?
MAKING A CONCEPT ALBUM IS ONE THING. YOU HAVE TO HAVE A PLOTLINE IN YOUR HEAD, WRITE SONGS AND LYRICS RELATED TO YOUR SUBJECT AND FIND A GRAPHIC ARTIST TO MAKE A STUNNING COVER THAT CAPTURES THE WHOLE THING. CANADIAN METALLERS UNLEASH THE ARCHERS DID IT SUCCESSFULLY IN 2017 WITH THEIR ALBUM ‘APEX’. AND NOW THEY’RE BACK WITH A SEQUAL AND GO THROUGH THE WHOLE TRAJECTORY AGAIN. THE FOLLOW-UP WILL BE TITLED ‘ABYSS’ AND IS GOING TO BE RELEASED VIA NAPALM RECORDS ON AUGUST 21ST. FEMALE FRONTED POWER ASKED SINGER BRITTNEY SLAYES TO EXPLAIN THE STORY OF ‘APEX’ AND ‘ABYSS’ IN HER OWN WORDS AND GIVE SOME COMMENTS ON THE 10 TRACKS THAT WILL BE ON ‘ABYSS’. HERE’S WHAT BRITTNEY TOLD US.
“In Apex, we were introduced to The Immortal, a cursed being who is forced to serve whoever awakens him from his thousand year slumbers, and The Matriarch, a sorceress willing to do whatever it takes to wield ultimate power. The Matriarch awakens The Immortal and tasks him with finding her four sons and bringing them back to her so she can kill them in a ritual to achieve immortality. After doing so, The Matriarch had promised The Immortal she would free him of his curse, but of course she betrays him, and at the end of Apex we find The Immortal back in his mountain keep, forced to sleep until The Matriarch has need of him again.
Fast forward fifty years or so, and Abyss begins with The Immortal waking up alone on a starship out in space with no sign of The Matriarch to be seen. He wanders for a time, then finally finds his new master waiting for him on the bridge; it is The Matriarch’s Grandson, the son of one of the men The Immortal had condemned on the album before. The Grandson proves to be a much more favorable master, however, and once again The Immortal is promised his freedom – but only after they work together to rid the universe of The Matriarch and her evil, once and for all.
The story for both albums was written at pretty much exactly the same time. I knew right from the start that they would be called Apex & Abyss, and I knew that one would take place on terra firma and one would take place amongst the stars. The story changed a little bit as we went along but the foundation always remained the same: Apex refers to The Immortal’s mountain, his safe place and home for thousands of years, and Abyss refers to the everlasting blackness of space, and the terror and freedom that linger there.”
So far the story. We also asked Brittney if she could tell us something about the SF Perry Rhodan-like cover art.
“The cover art was done by Adam Burke of Nightjar Illustration. I wrote out a detailed description of what I had in mind for the cover and what ‘scene’ was occurring to give him some inspiration. I also provided some images and references so he would understand the style and composition we were after. He did an incredible job, and it looks just like the cover of a science-fiction novel, which I think is perfect!”
And to make the whole picture complete, Brittney will now comment on all 10 tracks that will appear on Abyss:
01. Waking Dream
“This track is more of an interlude, Abyss was meant to be listened to directly after Apex, and this song is the piece that connects them. It takes place within The Immortal’s dreams, which are extremely important to him. When he is awake he is a slave, but when he is asleep he is free. This dream is fitful however, and hovers on nightmare. He can see a light but can not reach it, and instead feels almost like he is drowning in a rising blackness that threatens to consume him completely.”
“This was the first song we wrote for the album, and had actually started working on it when we were writing Apex. The opening riff was crucial to the emotion of the moment and introduces the listener to the beauty and horror of space. The Immortal emerges from a short and restless sleep and he immediately knows he has been torn from his mountain. Instead he awakens in a cold and unfamiliar place – a starship out in space. At first he looks out into the darkness beyond and feels fear, but slowly he comes to admire the beauty around him and realizes this may be his opportunity to change his fate.”
03. Through Stars
“The synth is extremely important in this song, even though it is not the loudest part of the mix. The rest of the song was written around it and it is our version of a heavy-metal infused synthwave track. The ship is vast and The Immortal wanders for some time. These moments of loneliness are unwelcome, as they always force introspection and feelings of regret. This time, however, The Immortal makes a promise to himself to never allow fate to control his actions ever again. He has a choice, and he must fight now to atone for his past.”
“This song is from the POV of The Grandson, when finally they meet at the front of the ship, and is meant to be quite different from the rest of the album. We wanted the voice of The Grandson to really stand out. The Grandson explains how at first he blamed The Immortal for the loss of his father, then realized it was his Grandmother, The Matriarch, who was truly responsible and set out to exact revenge upon her. He searched far and wide for the words that would awaken The Immortal so he could steal him from her and inevitably use her favourite weapon against her.”
05. Return To Me
“This song is from the POV of The Matriarch and she is obviously extremely upset. This is the first time you will hear harsh vocals on the album, with the re-introduction of The Matriarch to the story, and it is very much meant to be her ‘true’ voice coming through. Again, we wanted this track to stand out, so you could really hear the shift in character. She is aghast at the arrogance of her Grandson, and her words drip with narcissism as she warns him that she is at her most powerful and will not tolerate him taking her things. The Immortal is not a person to her, he is a tool, a weapon and soon she will pay dearly for that misconception.”
“At the end of Apex, when The Matriarch murdered her own sons to achieve immortality, she did not quite kill them… She bound their souls to her, so that they now exist in a state between life and death and are slaves to her every whim. She sends her ‘boys’ after The Immortal, who must battle them both physically and mentally and yet still he strives to save them from her, just as he fights to save himself.”
07. Faster Than Light
“Andrew (Kingsley: Guitar/Vocals/Synths – FFP) and I decided we wanted to have a traditional power metal song on the record, and so this track started with the opening riff. Everything else just fell into place quite quickly after that, but of course in typical UTA style we had do a bit of genre-bending and added a breakdown in there for good measure. 😉 With The Soulbound defeated, The Matriarch herself pursues. The Grandson pushes faster and faster, hoping to outrun her in the vast infiniteness of space. At first The Immortal agrees with this plan, but soon realizes she will never give up and knows he must turn and fight. The reason why The Matriarch had awakened and enslaved The Immortal all those years ago was because she alone knew what even The Immortal did not – he was the only one with power enough to defeat her. Suddenly The Immortal realizes this and he convinces The Grandson to turn and face her.”
08. The Wind That Shapes The Land
“This song is our odyssey; it is very much a story within the story and is meant to take the listener on a roller-coaster of emotion as The Matriarch and The Immortal finally face off after the events of the last album. Resolute in the knowledge that he alone has the power to defeat The Matriarch, The Immortal awaits her on a long-abandoned planet, ready to do battle. The very earth beneath their feet shakes with the ferocity of their confrontation, but ever so slowly The Immortal gains ground on The Matriarch. Finally, enveloped in the throes of her own magic, The Immortal gets close enough to touch her and crushes the life from her with his bare hands. The storm that surrounded them ends and the light of the stars shines brightly down upon him, but in the silence, The Immortal realizes The Matriarch was not the only one injured during the clash and he rushes to the side of The Grandson, who lies dying in the starlight.”
09. Carry The Flame
“This song was inspired by traditional power ballads, with bands like Queensryche and Scorpions at the forefront of our inspiration. Holding The Grandson in his arms, The Immortal begs him to fight, to live on and help him find his way in the world, but The Grandson refuses. Instead he tasks him with caring for the innocent and fighting for those that cannot fight for themselves, then sets The Immortal free.”
“This song is the triumphant end to the record, but we wanted it to have a darker edge as well, so we kept it as heavy as we could without taking away from the symphonic elements. Free at last, The Immortal faces the Abyss of space with trepidation and fear, but also hope and excitement. He promises to do as The Grandon asks, but a dark voice inside himself encourages him to be the unstoppable tyrant he has the power to be. The Immortal vows never to let evil and anger control his fate ever again and sets off into the unknown with goodness and light in his heart.”
“Thank you so much for your time! Hope you enjoyed the story.” 🙂 – Brittney Slayes
Quite a remarkable story, huh? Christopher Nolan, Luc Besson, James Cameron or even Steven Spielberg could make a real blockbuster out of this. We thank Brittney Slayes for her kind cooperation to tell us the story of Apex and Abyss. As said, Abyss will be out on August 21st through Napalm Records. You can order both Apex and Abyss plus more UNLEASH THE ARCHERS merchandise right here: https://napalmrecords.com/english/unleashthearchers.