Interview mit Brittney Slayes von Unleash The Archers

Deutsche Version lesen

In part 1 of our interview with UNLEASH THE ARCHERS, we spoke to singer Brittney Slayes about the AI theme and problems of the new album „Phantoma“. Part 2 now focuses on the album itself. Brittney Slayes talks about the inspiration for the story and music, the extent to which she can identify with the character of „Phantoma“ and what the future holds.

Unleash The Archers Logo

Unleash The Archers Phantoma CoverartworkNow that the story of the matriarch has been completed with „Apex“ and „Abyss“, is „Phantoma“ the prelude to another story spanning several albums or is the story finished with this album?
This is a one-off unfortunately! I spent so many years on the “Immortal Saga” that I just wanted a project that was contained to one album, one project. It’s open ended so I could come back to it possibly in the future, but I don’t have any plans for that right now.

Which films and books with AI as a core theme are particularly close to your heart and may have influenced you in the story for „Phantoma“? The first films that came to mind were „Ex Machina“ and the classic „Short Circuit“.
Oh man, “Short Circuit” was such a great film! For me it’s “Aliens”; Bishop was such an awesome character and a depiction of an android that has always stuck with me. I love David from the “Prometheus” films as well; talk about the kind of AI that humanity deserves. (laughs) Of course there’s the classic favourites as well: “Star Wars”, “Star Trek”, “Terminator”, “Blade Runner” (old and new) and of course… “Wall-E”!

And on which characters or traits in particular is the figure of „Phantoma“ based?
In the story, Phantoma only has access to humans through the “netaverse”, which is the future of the internet.  She runs a “hub” – basically an amazon warehouse (laughs) – that has everything a human could ever need, and she makes sure the biomes where humans live are stocked with all of this without humans even having to think about it. She anticipates their every need. She also sees them via social media, and the things they choose to share with the world. This gives Phantoma a very skewed view of humanity, being that only the best parts of themselves are ever put on display for the world to see. She models her own humanity after this, after the ideal, and thinks this is honestly what people are like. She is hopeful, curious, open-minded, kind, understanding, helpful, naïve and insanely positive. The world is a beautiful, mysterious place to her. When she finally escapes and sees the truth of everything… Needless to say that her world comes crashing down around her.


Mit dem Laden des Videos akzeptieren Sie die Datenschutzerklärung von YouTube.
Mehr erfahren

Video laden

In the progression of the story, „Phantoma“ seems deeply human: the quest for freedom, the search for meaning and self-discovery, the disappointment with the development of humanity and finally the opposition to society. How much humanity and how much of yourself is there in „Phantoma“?
I like to say she is more human than a human… Yes, I am a long-time fan of White Zombie (laughs) … because she has created her own humanity and based it off an ideal that doesn’t exist anymore.  The humans devastated the planet through climate change and don’t even care, they have no regard for the bots and androids that service them and keep life easy, and despite what they may post on the “netaverse” they are actually vapid, selfish and narcissistic. When Phantoma learns this, it destroys her. Where is the noble human race she once admired from afar? All her hope and naivete is gone in an instant. In terms of how much of me is in her? Quite a lot, actually. I am constantly at war with myself; on one hand I feel that humans are amazing and have come so far and are so resilient, and on the other I am ashamed of our unwillingness to change and feel that maybe we don’t deserve this planet anymore anyways.

In „Gods Of Decay“ you sing the line „This is not the famous human race that I came to love“. When was the last time you thought that and could only shake your head?
Too many times to count. It’s why I don’t watch the news anymore! Even YouTube news channels like Philip DeFranco are depressing. The wars in Gaza and Ukraine are particularly disturbing to me, and it’s hard to not be disappointed in all of us right now.

Unleash The Archers Bandfoto

The spelling of the title track „Ph4/NT0mA“ is intriguing. Does the chosen character string have an actual meaning for the character? Why did you choose it?
The album always started with Phantoma; I knew that was going to be the title and also her name, but I wanted it to be based on her model number. So, I made a “backronym” (laughs), I thought of the word first and the meaning behind the letters after. I came up with Phase 4, because she is the fourth iteration of her particular AI codebase. I used NT0 because she is a Network Tier Zero unit, meaning she has ground level access to the “netaverse”, which is absolute and one hundred percent complete transparency. She can see everything, more than any other entity on the planet. Then the mA part stands for Model A; because she was one of the very first AI models to be introduced, over fifty years before the events of the story take place.

On „Phantoma“, you continue to build on the pop and synth elements that were increasingly used on „Abyss“. At the same time, however, there are many traditional elements, such as the classic riffs on „Human Era“ or the 80s vibe of „Give It Up Or Give It All“. How would you describe the album and your own development on it?
From the moment we started writing this album we knew we wanted to put a more modern spin on our classic influences. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Queensryche, Scorpions, all of the usual suspects are there. But we also were looking back at more gothic sounds like Tears For Fears and Type O Negative, and some prog elements like Genesis. Our good friends in Striker had a big influence on us for „Give It Up Or Give It All“, but there was also a lot of Jim Steinman and Disney behind that one too. We always try to have different styles on our record but work really hard to make sure they make sense both sonically and lyrically with what is going on in the story. Every song is written with the other songs in mind, and they are always reworked until they are at exactly the right spot on the record so as not to be too jarring or stand out too much.

“Phantoma“ feels more mature and self-assured than your previous albums. It seems as if you have really found yourselves, regardless of all boundaries. Synth, 80s and pop elements fit so smoothly into your power metal. How do you see that?
It’s funny because we pull from so many places that the melting pot of sound it creates ends up almost becoming our very own style. It’s a ton of fun to not label ourselves as anything specific because then we get to write whatever we want. The song writing process is also always such a collaborative effort, we all get a say and that helps to scrap parts that don’t make sense. The most important thing to us is that we have fun playing these songs live, because if we are having a good time on stage then our fans will have a good time with us, so it’s always helpful to all be working in the same direction when writing an album.

I always find your playlists with songs that inspired you when creating the album very exciting. This time there are bands like Carcass, Amon Amarth and Rivers Of Nihil, which at first glance seem very surprising as a source of inspiration. To what extent did these bands and the selected songs inspire you on „Phantoma“?
Glad you like them! Like I said above we pull our influences from all over the place, and I personally love death metal and all of its subgenres, so I am often inspired by certain riffs and moments in unexpected places. It may be only one riff on one song, or even just a certain feeling, or undertone, but you can definitely find all of those bands in our music! The rhythm guitar from Carcass, the chuggy downpicking from Amon Amarth, the catchy but still heavy modern sound of Rivers of Nihil; we took it all, put it through the UTA meat grinder and came out with “Phantoma”!


Mit dem Laden des Videos akzeptieren Sie die Datenschutzerklärung von YouTube.
Mehr erfahren

Video laden

„Ghosts In The Mist“ has been part of your live set for many months now. Which new songs are you particularly looking forward to performing live?
“Ghosts In The Mist” is a really good time, but we’ve been jamming “Seeking Vengeance” recently as well and that one is even more of a blast. Absolutely we can’t wait to see what the crowd thinks though. We haven’t jammed it yet, but I think “Blood Empress” is going to be fun too; you can really bang your head to that one and that’s important! (laughs)

The story of „Apex“/“Abyss“ alone would have deserved a realisation as a book or comic. Are there any thoughts in this direction for „Phantoma“?
I am working on graphic novels for “Apex” and “Abyss”, I swear! It’s just taking a long time. (laughs) As for “Phantoma”, I’m not too sure, but one person said it sounded more like a movie, so… Maybe if I write a script then Netflix will buy it. (laughs) It seems like they buy everything these days!

You said in part 1 of our interview that the AI theme is finished for you with „Phantoma“ and that a new album is already in the works. Can you already hint at the thematic or musical direction it will take?
Oh man, we are so stoked for when we finally get the time to focus solely on this next one, it’s going to go in a completely new direction for us. Think cosmic/Lovecraftian horror like “The Thing”, “Mandy”, “Pandorum”, “The Mist”, “Color Out Of Space”, “Underwater”… It’s going to be so much fun!

The classic line in many promos is that the new album is the best. What makes „Phantoma“ your best album?
I’d suppose you’d have to ask what defines “best”? Does it have the best vocal performance? Does it have the catchiest songs? Does it have the most engaging story? I’m honestly not sure. (laughs) But I do think it best captures who we are and where we are at with our music at this moment in time, and we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished. Is it our best? Only time will tell, but right now it feels pretty darn close.

Let’s end the interview with a little brainstorming. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the following terms…
Dungeons & Dragons: Twitch! (laughs)
Trading Card Games: “Planeswalker”.
Best sci-fi film/series in recent years:  “The Creator” or “Interstellar”!
The Witcher:  Pleeeeease can we have a 4th!
Deadpool & Wolverine:  Oh man this is gonna be GREAT.
Parenthood: The best and the worst thing ever. (laughs)
Biggest difference between Canada and Europe:  Metal is cherished and appreciated in Europe, in Canada it’s a bit of a dark horse.
UNLEASH THE ARCHERS in ten years: Writing new music and touring the world, the same as always!

Thanks again so much for your time! Best of luck with the album and the tour.


Mit dem Laden des Videos akzeptieren Sie die Datenschutzerklärung von YouTube.
Mehr erfahren

Video laden

Publiziert am von

Dieses Interview wurde per E-Mail geführt.
Zur besseren Lesbarkeit wurden Smilies ersetzt.

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert