Album: Culling the Weak
This is the second full-length release from Archer, who are a California-based heavy metal power trio. And right from the start of the album, it is pretty obvious that these guys mean business. And whilst the riffs are unmistakably metal, they are executed with a groovy and bluesy feel that gives them a bit of a hard rock vibe in places. But this isn’t a drawback at all, as I think this element of their music gives it a fresh feel and a bit of energy that is often missing in a lot of heavy metal. Combine this energy with their instrumental virtuosity, and you have all the makings for a good metal album.
First and foremost, this album has the complete power trio feel to it: you have a single guitar, a bass, and a drum kit. That’s it. And the sound that is produced by each instrument is essential to the final product. As a result, there are no wasted notes on here. The guitar and bass complement each other unbelievably well, and during solos when it’s just a lead guitar and bass playing, you really can see the band’s chemistry shine through. I feel like it’s easy for the bass to get washed out in a lot of more recent metal where the guitars are so downtuned and both bass and guitar are supplied with so many extra strings that the instruments become almost indistinguishable, resulting in a sloppy mess of indecipherable distortion. But this is the exact opposite case. For a perfect example of this, one need look no further than the track “World of One”.
Even though I enjoyed this entire album, there is no mistake in my mind that the second half is better than the first. The compositions are better, the riffs are more punctuated, and the solos are just mind-bendingly awesome. And speaking of the lead guitar work, I should probably mention a few things here. First, yes they are fast. But the overwhelming majority of metal lead players can shred all over the fretboard, so that’s not exactly anything significant. But here’s the second thing: they are innovative. The lead guitarist has an incredible way of finding captivating patterns in his solos that are downright enchanting. Check out the solo on “The Day That Never Came” if you want to hear what I’m talking about. Seriously, heavy metal lead guitar playing doesn’t get much better than this.
The album closes with what is arguably the best track on the album. “My Atrocity” was also released as a single, and it makes sense why. It’s the longest song on the album and showcases a lot of the best aspects that Archer have to offer. It covers the fast and the slow, the loud and the soft, as well as their heavy metal side and a little bit of their bluesy rock side. Overall, I can’t find a specific glaring fault with this effort. The only thing I could possibly offer as a criticism would be of the vocals. And they aren’t bad at all, but they are rather plain. In comparison with the rest of the band, they’re the only thing lagging behind. Which, if you have music as good as these guys do, is kind of understandable.
Check ’em out here: https://www.facebook.com/archernation