Review Summary: Yup, they still sound like Architects.
Capricious metal bands aiming at the hip and current trends has been a startling motif for 2018 – at least in terms of the more commercially successful groups releasing new albums – and it’s an aspect which has quite honestly haunted a lot of my enjoyment for heavy music this year. One thing metal as a genre can convey so well is its frustrations on something; given the right mindset and approach, the earnest power emitted from the artist can bring an unattainable catharsis you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s where I think metal as a collective has been dropping the ball this year. Seldom do I feel these bands offer the convictions needed to revive what has been a pretty poor turnout thus far, rather working with soulless shills to make the most formulaic and accessible sounds possible to receive a return for their efforts. With Architects, and more specifically Holy Hell
, they’ve kind of gone the same way but I feel they’ve earned their right to bring a more digestible and melodic-heavy sound to the table, simply because it’s something they’ve been working towards for the better part of a decade. Which is the whole point to a band’s evolution: context.
After the untimely death of Tom Searle, the band’s primary songwriter, many hardcore fans wrote the band off because its integral mind wasn’t present in the camp anymore. To their surprise however, Holy Hell
manages to continue their work as if nothing ever happened – which could be taken as a missed opportunity or a blessing depending on your standpoint. Yes, if you haven’t heard a note of this record yet, it’s the same blueprint they’ve been working from since Lost Forever//Lost Together
, but like all their albums, they continue to take baby steps forward to maintain a relative freshness. The epic undertones, ala string arrangements, swooping guitar passages and big washing waves of synth, continue to reside next to chunky guitar riffs and intricate rhythms but take a more predominant role next to Carter’s vocal work which moves on to slightly different pastures. There’s definitely more emphasis made to focus on Sam in an attempt to elevate the emotional factors of this record (for obvious reasons), and I think he, and the rest of the band, do a sterling job of partnering these mammoth soundscapes with Sam’s takes. The crescendo to “Holy Hell”, the goliath “Doomsday” and “Royal Beggars” show as the top cuts for this mild advancement in sound, while I think the now flaccid breakdown in metalcore is handled pretty interestingly here as well – which is no mean feat – on a song like “Mortal After All”, which shows its effective flex next to the ethereal synth ambience and these abrasive horn effects that sit on top of the guitars.
The enjoyment is certainly here for the taking, but I still feel their evolution is in microns. If you’ve been frustrated with the last few albums, I hate to break it to you; there’s not much in the way of change that’ll bring you back into the fold. The biggest relief for me was in seeing Architects doing their own thing and not following suit with the herds – an easy incentive in today’s climate. This aims a hair towards clean vocal work on songs like “Damnation”, “Modern Misery” and “A Wasted Hymn” but it’s all done very naturally. With that said, there’s a balancing act here that has some of their most scathing performances as well, namely “The Seven Circle” which is an untameable beast of a track and is probably the heaviest we’ve heard Architects since Hollow Crown
; a real highlight that shows they still have the intense savagery in them. Holy Hell
is a great album filled with passion for their craft and it’s all done on their own terms, which, frankly, is a breath of fresh air. Bar maybe “Damnation” for having a rather flat melody there’s not a bad song here, but at the same time there’s not a lot here you haven’t heard before, so take that as you will.
PACKAGING: Digipak case with foldout poster-lyric sheet.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: http://www.architectsofficial.com/