Review Summary: Architects ditch their earlier sound and craft a solid but boring album.
Metalcore is a troublesome genre, what once started off as an underground expansion of the hardcore punk sound has since become an extremely overplayed style that caters to anyone with tight jeans and a long fringe. As such the quantity of Metalcore bands has risen whilst the overall quality of the genre has crashed. So where does a band like Architects fit in all this mess? Well, somewhere in the middle.
Architects started off as a very technical almost Mathcore like band, since then they’ve changed vocalists and starting with their second full-length “Ruin” have begun moving toward a more stripped down, less technical approach. That being said there is still plenty of technical riffage and interesting drumming patterns to keep fans satisfied. Perhaps a downside to this being the bass getting lost among some of the meatier patterns, although the bass is still present in most tracks.
The song writing on the album has improved with the entire band seeming tighter. Rather than throwing in complex guitar work and hoping it fits the band has focused more on using their occasional flourishes into technicality to serve as highlights of songs. The more simplistic song structure allows the listener breathing room and gives one the chance to focus on other elements of the album, namely the vocal work.
Speaking of vocals, Sam is a competent if slightly repetitive vocalist. His harsh vocals are filled with pain and discontent but suffer from relatively small range. Similarly his cleans rarely stray beyond his rather limited comfort zone. That being said his performance is undoubtedly sincere and if nothing else demonstrates just how much emotion was put into this album.
So what is it that brings this album down? Repetition. At the end of the day the album is far to repetitive, many songs blend together and the majority of the songs lack musical elements to set themselves apart from the other tracks on the album. Twelve tracks of Sam’s vocals can seem like a chore at times and the accompanying gang vocals in certain tracks don’t do much to complement the album.
“Hollow Crown” shares a major similarity with “Ruin” in its inaccessibility by comparison to the band’s earlier work Nightmares. The ironic downside to this being that the most accessible track on the album is also the most generic; the title track borders on being a ballad and draws comparison to epic Metalcore ballads like Misery Signals’ Difference of Vengeance and Wrongs or Underoath’s Too Bright To See, Too Loud To Hear although it lacks the impressive structure of either of those songs.
So at the end of the day Architects have released a solid but lacking album. To write the album off as “Just another Metalcore record” would be a crime but to praise it as some great achievement in the genre would be equally ignorant. If anything the band isn’t so much bad as it is lacking in new ideas. As a wise man once said “It’s all been done before” and I would think the band needs a serious change for their next release to make up for this solid but dull album.