Receiving the Evcharist is our weekly feature where we pair choice albums with our favorite libations. Drink from the cup of heresy. This week’s offering: Unleash the Archers’ Abyss and Stone Brewing Company & Modern Times Brewing Company’s Wizards & Gargoyles.
The Tunes: Unleash the Archers’ Abyss
It’s been a minute since we last spoke, hasn’t it? It feels pretty good to be back in the saddle again, and I thank both of you for your patience during the few weeks I haven’t been present, and my esteemed brothers of the sonic cloth Jon and Ian for taking up the torch when called upon.
We’ve been covering a lot of power metal here lately (see our July Album of the Month podcast episode all about Judicator’s latest release), and it is my time now to keep this trend going by telling you all about what has been undoubtedly my most anticipated power metal album this year. I love Unleash the Archers. I’ve loved them since the first time I saw the music video for “Dawn of Ages” at the insistence of some friends, and 2018’s Apex crystalized that love completely; it is simply one of my favorite power metal albums I can ever remember hearing. Abyss already puts it to shame. It’s truly magic to see how Unleash the Archers can get better with every release; the whole band feels tighter this time, the music much more focused in its delivery despite the new addition of futuristic techno-esque keyboards to compliment the sci-fi story concept. And any conversation about Unleash the Archers that doesn’t include the fact that Brittney Slayes should be heavy metal royalty is a moot point; vocal delivery has always been the centerpiece of good power metal for me and her voice on Abyss is the most rich and confident I’ve ever heard it, giving the songs the shot of over-the-top melodicism that takes this album from good to great. This is the album that you play for those people in your life who are still convinced they don’t like power metal to instantly convert them. Abyss is a thorough, wholehearted good time that no one will be able to resist.
The Booze: Stone Brewing Company & Modern Times Brewing Company’s Wizards & Gargoyles
What better beer to pair with the kind of over-the-top power metal I love than one called Wizards & Gargoyles? Regular readers of this column should be ecstatic to see the names of two long time favorites of mine together on this release, Stone Brewing Company and Modern Times, purveyors of some of the best beer, coffee, and food I’ve ever had. Wizards & Gargoyles in theory should take some of the best of what both these companies offer, here Hazy IPA’s and fresh roasted coffee respectively, and combine them into something more than the sum of their parts. In practice however…the jury may still be out on this one. Fruit and coffee go more well together than people think (the best coffees I’ve had always have fruity, floral notes to them) but here the juicy notes from the hops and the coffee don’t ever meet in a cohesive middle. Every can of Wizards & Gargoyles I’ve had so far is a completely different experience; the first can I had was almost entirely sweet stone fruit notes and little coffee with an odd aftertaste, while the second leaned more heavily on the coffee notes and (thankfully) no aftertaste. The third can, that I am currently drinking, is almost entirely a kind of bitter orange flavor. It would have been nicer to see something that really allows these two great flavor profiles to compliment each other, but this ends up kind of feeling like two different beers mixed together. At the end of the day, I like Wizards & Gargoyles, but I’m not sure that I love it, and I kind of expected more from a collaboration between such high-profile breweries. Then again, it was good enough for me to drink at least three beers out of the four-pack I bought so take that with a grain of salt.
Cheers, and be good to each other,