Updated: Apr 26, 2022
Saskatchewan's Metal talent may have been snubbed for another award season year at the JUNO Awards in 2021 for the 2020 music year, but something often overlooked in the Metal world has been recognised on this year's Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year nominee list; and that's Power Metal in the form of British Columbia's Unleash The Archers.
Officially kickstarted as a genre by Germany's Halloween, but unofficially initiated in the concept lyrics and demon-slaying themes of NWOBHM bands such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, Power Metal has been the subject of much derision within the Metal community; leading the sub genre to be often overlooked come award season.
Personally, I don't understand the cold shoulder, I love Power Metal and I think new bands on the scene such as the aforementioned Unleash The Archers and Sweden's Manimal are killing it with powerful themes that drift away from the often maligned cliches of dragon-slaying and corrupted mages.
For Manimal's part, we've seen Power Metal take on the theme of the Black Plague in 2018's "Purgatorio", which admittedly doesn't age too well post-2020, but gave some powerful themes to meticulously composed Metal.
Unleash The Archers. Photo by Shimon Karmel
Unleash The Archers, for their efforts, take us in to intricately conceived foreign worlds of individuals with special abilities that have entire music video series to aid the listener's visualisation of this universe. And they've achieved the impossible, they've broken the mold of the niche Power Metal band and have begun to enjoy global success; something that's been impossible to miss if you're a Metal fan. This is all the more impressive since they're a Canadian Metal band that doesn't shy away from identifying as one; something that usually spells the hard path travelled for a Metal band, regardless of sub genre.
When asked what this award nomination means for the recognition of, not just Power Metal, but Canadian Power Metal, Brittney Slayes (vocalist and founding member) said:
"Power metal is a genre that is often not taken very seriously, and there are a lot of misconceptions around it so people tend not to give it a chance; we are hoping this may change that! Not just in the metal world but in the music industry in general. Power metal is full of amazing musicians with great stories to tell, some may believe that it's not 'heavy' enough but we are here to prove them wrong. Mainstream media rarely touches on metal, and metal media rarely touches on power metal, but I think the Juno nod might cause others to take a second look at the genre and find some really kick-ass music to boot!"
Cover art for Abyss, the album for which the band is nominated
When asked how it feels to be recognised by an award nomination from an award body with as much international clout as the JUNOS, Slayes added:
"It feels incredible! In an underground genre like ours you so very rarely get acknowledged by the wider world and media so it is such an honour to be recognized for your art on such a grand scale. We don't do this for the recognition but it sure is nice when it happens."
Will this recognition and new found global success give way to a growing acceptance of Power Metal within the Metal community and wider music industry? Only time will tell, but we here at North Sask Music Zine wish Brittney and Unleash The Archers the best come JUNO Awards day on June 6th 2021.
Abyss is available now on all major streaming platforms and physical media through Napalm Records.