By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks
Canadian vocalist Brittney Slayes is one of the most powerful voices in heavy metal in recent years. She co-founded heavy metal band Unleash The Archers in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 2007. The band debuted in 2009 with the album “Behold the Devastation” and its most recent release was the album “Abyss” which came out via Napalm Records in 2020. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Brittney to find out about the five albums that made her carry the flame of metal.
Megadeth “Countdown to Extinction” (1992)
“This is the first heavy metal record I ever heard. My brother had ordered it from a Columbia House Records mail order catalogue and liked it but wasn’t the hugest fan, so he passed it over to me and said ‘maybe you’ll like this’. He was right. I remember putting the cassette into my little boombox and sitting on the floor with the lyric booklet in my hands and just falling in love with the album. I loved everything about it, from the cover art to the heavy chugging guitars to the overly theatrical vocal performance. I still think it’s one of the greatest metal records to this day!”
Iron Maiden “Best of the Beast” (1996)
“I discovered Maiden later in my life, after I had graduated from high school and lost my way a little bit when it came to music. A friend put this CD on in the car on the way to a party one night and the metalhead in me was immediately reawakened. The duelling guitars, the soaring vocals; it was like I had finally found my calling. After the ride he gave me the CD. He said ‘I have a feeling you’ll listen to it more than I will’ and once again, he was right. That album started my journey into truly rediscovering my love of heavy metal. When I was younger, I listened to a lot of heavier stuff; White Zombie, Tool, Incubus – their early albums, but in high school I stopped. This album was the first time I had ever heard anything like ‘power metal’ or ‘trad metal’ or whatever you want to call it, but it changed me forever.”
Judas Priest “Painkiller” (1990)
“Again, I discovered this album late. After, illegally, downloading the entire Iron Maiden discography, I started to look for other bands that had a similar sound and inspired me in the same way, and of course that brought me to Judas Priest. ‘Painkiller’ introduced me to the ‘falsetto’ style vocals of Rob Halford and was the first time I started saying to myself ‘hey, I bet I could do this’ regarding fronting a band. I started going to more live shows, and checking out local bands, and seeing what the local metal scene was like. This album is hands down one of the greatest heavy metal records of all time, and if I ever had to show a non-metalhead a record to get them into metal this one would probably be the one I used.”
Queensrÿche “Operation: Mindcrime” (1988)
“The year was 2008, Unleash The Archers was finally complete with five members, we had a name, and we had our first show booked. We had five songs written but I was still struggling with finding my ‘metal voice’ after having sung classical and chamber music my whole life. We had found our second guitar player Mike online and he was a bit older than us and knew the local metal scene really well, he was so awesome at the business side of things and as a brand-new band we were so lucky to have found him. He and I were talking about my struggle one day and he suggested I listen to Queensrÿche. I respect him a lot so I found them online right away and was blown away by Geoff Tate from the first listen. ‘Queen of the Reich’ and ‘Warning’ were exactly what I was going for vocally, but it wasn’t until I heard ‘Mindcrime’ that I really began to study his vocal style and emulate what he could do. His control and tone are just so rich and warm, and the emotion he is able to convey is still unmatched to this day in my opinion. My falsetto style is based solely on Geoff Tate, and I still strive every single day to achieve the extraordinary level of storytelling he did with this record.”
Soilwork “The Living Infinite” (2013)
“I had heard amazing concept records before, but nothing so cohesive and complete as this one. I had heard somewhere that this was the first time the vocalist Björn had taken on a lot of the writing himself and had a huge part in the entire direction of the record and that was why it sounded so much like one whole just split into twenty tracks. I had never heard of them before but got asked to fill in as their merch person at their Vancouver show last minute, so my first time hearing them was live and they were AMAZING. Björn was amazing. I had never heard someone go from such beastly screams to such a full clean voice like he does and I still don’t think anyone compares. OK, maybe Tomi from Amorphis, but they are equals in this for sure. A friend of mine came by the merch booth and I was like ‘are you a fan of these guys? Which album should I buy?’ He pointed to ‘The Living Infinite’ without a second’s hesitation. I am so glad that he did. This record directly inspired ‘Apex’ and ‘Abyss’. It is the reason they were originally going to be a two-disc record, and the reason I decided to write the story out in an outline with very distinct directions to the boys on how to write the guitar riffs. I wanted a record as complete as this one in sound, feeling, and tone, and I can guarantee you that ‘Apex’ and ‘Abyss’ would not exist without this album having existed first!”
Honourable mentions: These records may not have changed my life, but they were huge milestones for sure! Lost Horizon “Awakening the World” (2001) and “A Flame to the Ground Beneath” (2003), Iced Earth “The Crucible of Man” (2008), Fleshgod Apocalypse “Veleno” (2019), Dragonland “Under the Grey Banner” (2011).