Review Summary: I refuse to listen
It’s been a long and arduous journey for British metalcore crew Architects. Following the release of their jagged, schizophrenic debut Nightmares, the band abandoned then-vocalist Matt Johnson in favour of the more experienced Sam Carter, who provided a suitably viscous performance to the band’s otherwise underwhelming sophomore release. What followed was 4 years of immense success for the band, who put out their career-defining record Hollow Crown and joined the ranks of the metalcore elite. Unfortunately their two most recent releases, the lacklustre The Here and Now and the forced homogeneity of Daybreaker, have tainted their reputation amongst all but the most dedicated fans.
So it was with baited breath that the irritatingly titled Lost Forever // Lost Together arrived. In seeking to better Daybreaker and in doing so win back their constantly disappointed fanbase, Architects have neglected to put any focus on imaginative songwriting, resulting in eleven brand new songs that, ultimately, all sound roughly the same. The same guitar tone that proved so detrimental to Daybreaker’s overly polished sound is back in full force, and on tracks like The Devil Is Near, serves up yet another portion of soulless guitar noodling i.e. These Colours Don’t Run. The sheer lack of variety in terms of the riffs on this thing is astonishing, no less than on the particularly monotonous Dead Man Talking. The sad thing is that tracks like these actually carry a decent groove, but their inability to stray from already clearly-defined lines of progression is frustrating.
It’s because of this that so many of these songs are indistinguishable. The flavourless chugs on the terribly titled C.A.N.C.E.R. are bad enough, but when the chorus (which employs Carter’s grating clean vocals) sounds nearly identical to that of Dead Man Talking the realisation that the band’s creative train of thought has grinded to a very slow and painful halt looms ominously. Naysayer (the only thing here with any replay value and the best song the band have written in 5 years) is the only track sporting a decent hook, and thus an excellent choice for a single. But even on this song, Carter’s vocals stick out like a sore thumb, the unfortunate victim of overproduction to match the squeaky-clean sound of the band’s post 2009 material.
Drummer Dan Searle does his very best to spice up his brother’s nonchalant playing, but his contributions are no less unimpressive. As has been the case since Daybreaker, his role has been played down to accommodate a focus on synths, and while his fills do make a nice change during the very sections that have made him nothing but surplus to the band’s needs, his aggressive playing sounds as plastic and unconvincing as almost everything he has done since the band’s inception. And bassist Alex Dean, who has never really stood out either, just sort of exists. I don’t even recall hearing bass on this album, and why would I when the mixing on the vocals and guitars dwarf everything else.
With every new Architects record comes some of the finer bells and whistles, the latest craze to ride on. On Nightmares, the band played blistering Dillinger-esque riffs, but by The Here and Now it was Alexisonfire comparisons being raised, mainly thanks to the Dallas Green-aping clean vocals. The terrible boyband-esque present on many songs including career low Heartburn have unfortunately remained a part of the band’s arsenal are back here, mainly popping up during awkwardly-transitioned bridges (think Even If You Win, You’re Still A Rat). Thankfully, there’s nothing as abhorrent as that track or the dreadful Behind the Throne from the band’s last outing, but there’s still a good few moments that make me cringe.
Here the band appear to have taken the minor symphonic elements of Daybreaker and used that as their new gimmick, leading to nearly every song opening in the exact same way before launching Carter’s vocals into the musical stratosphere. By cutting through the silence with his terrible lyrics ‘dear oh dear, what a sorry state we’re in’, he is as welcome as a space shuttle filled with AIDS infested monkeys heading towards the international space-station. The result is certainly the same; disaster. If there’s anything to take away from hearing this album, it’s this: never trust Architects, they will always let you down. After insisting that their new record would resemble Hollow Crown more than any of their other output, the band have made zero effort to reclaim their glory days and once again have presented us with yet more bland, processed rubbish.