UNLEASH THE ARCHERS have a history of creating albums that uplift and empower, Abyss was no exception and it was highly praised by fans and critics. Just after the release, Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham grabbed a chat with band vocalist Brittney Slayes about Abyss, the pandemic and what helps her cope when mental health is bad.
So Abyss has been out for a while now and it appears to have gone down well with fans and critics. Would you agree with this?
I think so, yes! We couldn’t be happier with the reception to be honest. It took some time for people to warm up to it, being that it is quite different than Apex, but in the end I think everyone figured out what we were trying to do and accepted it for what it is. When you write a new album, you never know how people are going to react, you just have to put your everything into it and hope for the best. When we heard the whole album for the first time at the end of our studio session we all felt like we had something special, we were all very proud of it, but as to what the rest of the world was going to think, we had no idea.
What is the inspiration behind Abyss?
The album is the sequel to our 2017 record Apex and follows a main character we call The Immortal as he breaks his bonds of slavery and finally finds freedom. While there is a traditional narrative story to both records, I feel that underneath Abyss is very much about ignoring the expectations of others and following your own path in life. I created The Immortal as this character that has so much potential, but never believes he has the power to change his fate and resigns himself to doing the bidding of others. In Abyss, he finally recognizes the strength he has within himself and uses it to defeat his oppressors as well as his own inner demons, and I think this is something that almost everyone can relate to. I wanted this album to bring hope to our fans in what turned out to be a very dark year for us all.
When creating the record, did you already have in mind what songs you wanted to include growls on?
I usually know right away when I hear a particular song or riff if it will lend itself well to the growls. Sometimes I also use them as opposing characters or internal monologue. I look at them like an instrument just like any other, and often they play a very big role in the direction a song will take.
Do you have a favourite song on the record?
This is such a hard question, there are so many that I really like on the new album, but I think after having jammed them for a while now ‘Legacy’ is starting to stand out as my favourite. It’s theatrical and melodic but also heavy and fast; it’s a bit challenging but not so much that I can’t enjoy myself while I perform it so, I think it might take the top spot on this album!
How have you personally been coping with lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Luckily, I have been able to keep my job this whole time, so I have been super busy with that, but I do miss touring a lot. I miss live music in general actually; I would love to be able to go to a show these days. Lately I have been hanging out on Twitch, which I discovered when we went into lockdown last March. It’s a great place full of great people playing music at all hours of the day! I myself have done a few streams and it is a lot of fun. Not quite like performing live on stage but close!
At Rock Out Stand Out, we are passionate about spreading mental health awareness. What helps you to stay calm and keep grounded when things start to become overwhelming?
Music! I go through phases; sometime heavy metal helps get me through, but sometimes it’s classical music, or sometimes it’s pop. I will admit lately I have been listening to a lot of pop to keep my spirits up, but I’m sure that will change again soon. I love searching out new music too. I love finding new bands and albums on Spotify, discovering something I haven’t heard before. It’s really inspiring. You have to actively seek it out otherwise you will stagnate, and just listen to the same bands over and over. Sometimes it’s months in between finding something new that I like but man, there is nothing else like that feeling of finding a new band or artist that you just can’t stop listening to. It’s definitely invigorating!
Was there other troop class names you considered for the band name? Example, Unleash The Titans, Warriors etc.
There was not, actually. I’m not sure how or why but Archers was the first suggestion and the whole band didn’t hate it so that’s what we went with! I am not sure if you have ever seen the movie Hero with Jet Li, but the ending of that film (I won’t spoil it) is what I first thought of when our guitar player suggested the name, so I was immediately on board. I also like to say, imagine a hoard of barbarians is baring down on your castle, what’s the first thing that you’ll do?
Do you have a message for fans and anyone not coping with lockdown?
Thank you for listening to the new album! Keep holding on, live music will return, gatherings with friends will return, hugs will return! There is an end to this, of that we can be sure, and we will get there safely so long as we work together and sacrifice a bit now to enjoy the benefits later. I know it is a cliché but we really are all in this together. If you are feeling lonely, just reach out, or better yet, come hang out with us on discord; there is a great group of people there all ready to share and support one another no matter what time it is!
Thank you Brittney for talking to Rock Out Stand Out today.