Review Summary: Architects...of their artistic downfall.
Architects unceremoniously arrived on the extreme scene with “Nightmares” - a dexterous display of technical ability, tempered by endearing song writing naïveté that reflected the band’s youth. However, it wasn’t until “Ruin” - where the original singer was replaced by the caustic throat of Sam Carter - that the band aroused the attention of the underground. It was a scorching union of polyrhythmic hardcore, with the mechanical bite of death metal, adorned with the symmetrical elegance of Seldon Hunt’s artwork. As a complete package, it amounted to an adrenaline shot in the frail heart of the UK extreme music scene, and dripped with the kind of desperation that is inherent in everyone yearning to escape the mundane trappings of modern life (“Buried At Sea”, “Low”).
From here, Architects had the choice that has presented itself to an assemblage of bands that have winded the weary listener with their impact. Do they increase the intensity and hone the song writing into an ultimate hammer blow, or set their sights on the bright lights of the mainstream? One path brings credibility and respect, the other - fame and fortune. Architects chose the hard road and released “Hollow Crown” - an album which plunged hardcore face first into the post-Meshuggah landscape, as song writing precision collided with memorable technical brutality (“Early Grave”, “Follow The Water”, “We’re All Alone”). It exhibited the talent that existed inside Architects’ walls, and earned the respect of not only the hardcore community but the metal scene at large.
History aside, Architects of "The Here And Now” have abandoned the struggles of the hard road, cast aside the robes of credibility, and set them alight in effigy. This is the band’s big break for mainstream success; only Nostradamus could predict whether they pull it off. Credit must be due to Architects for having the gumption to try such a bold move, yet the jury is still out on whether their motivations are based on boredom with the scene that raised them, or inspired by monetary goals alone. That suspicion always arises when a band rejects the sound that brought them to the table.
Architects 2011 have morphed into a melodic post-hardcore band, shedding their cranium-cracking heft for an approach similar to bands like Alexisonfire (“Learn to Live”) and 36 Crazyfists (“Day In Day Out”). Neither of these comparisons are what you’d call “poppy”, but from Architects’ previous sound to this - comparable to Cannibal Corpse becoming the Carpenters – it’s night and day!
Sure, the vocals are still screamed, but they lack the power of old and are almost always followed by a saccharine chorus that in the majority of instances sound manufactured and awkward (see “Heartburn” – a fitting title as acid reflux may be a side-effect of this acoustically led “emo-ballad”).
The riffs are consciously simplified and Sam Carter’s lyrics are cringe-worthy and pedestrian (see “BTN” with its calls of “I’m so down.” – Such lyrics have the emotional depth of Paris Hilton standing in a two-inch puddle!). These lyrics are more grating due to the marketable attempts at pushing the vocals higher in the mix to appeal to the “fringe-brigade”. Let’s face it, Sam Carter was no Hemingway in the past either, but his clichéd lyrics were forgivable when screamed with passion and delivered on the back of lacerating riffage.
The attempts at trying to gain obligatory scene credentials comes from the guest appearances of Comeback Kid’s Andrew Neufeld and the Dillinger Escape Plan’s resident paint scrapper Greg Puciato, who moonlight on album highlights “Stay Young Forever”, "Year In Year Out/Up And Away". The necessity of these appearances only enhances the fact that Architects are aware that they may have lost a majority of past fans with this release, and this is a contrived attempt at keeping one foot back in the hardcore slip stream. Maybe it’s an attempt at a “get out of jail free card” should this album fail - unfortunately such failure is unlikely, as its conventional appeal will more than likely make this album Architects’ most financially successful.
Welcome to the mainstream fellas – the fall from here is breathtaking!