Architects
Holy Hell


3.5
great

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
November 11th, 2018 | 218 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: darkness, oh hell

After Tom Searle’s death, the songs on Architects’ All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us took on deeper meaning. Alan Watts’s admonition to “be mindful of death” is an obvious one, but even a track like “Nihilist” gained significance, born as it was from the mind of a dying man who could only see a suicidal god, despairing at the failure of his creation. Humankind was likened to the malignant cancer that was destroying Searle, malicious and unfeeling, consuming for its own pleasure at the expense of the planet. “No love, no empathy, our fellow man is now our enemy.” Lyrics that may have seemed generic when the album was released instead became poignant warnings, a living will that would soon become a dying one. As the first album released after Searle’s death, Holy Hell takes on similar significance. If All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us was Searle wishing the world a bitter goodbye, then Holy Hell is the rest of the band, including Searle’s brother Dan, saying goodbye to him.

It is remarkable that they were able to complete and release this album within a typical two-year cycle, and it is even more remarkable that they were able to do so without cheapening their sound. Essentially, Holy Hell sounds like Architects. Here again, though, qualities that may have sounded generic are instead given life and poignancy by the circumstances under which it was written and recorded. Many of the lyrics would be easy to criticize for sounding like rehashes of Tom’s earlier songs, but here they sound like a tribute to him, a continuation of his vision for the band. On “Modern Misery”, which is basically All Our Gods… in miniature, Sam Carter screams about “a parasite killing its host.” He’s talking about mankind, but thoughts of Searle’s cancer loom large. And sometimes, the band is even able to exceed their former albums. The guitar work in “Hereafter” and “Mortal After All” is some of the strongest in their discography.

However, the pain of Tom’s absence, though it colors every song in some way, can’t justify every aspect of the album. Several songs devolve into lethargic breakdowns full of lazy palm mutes, and the more plays the album gets, the more apparent it becomes that the drums always mirror the guitar riffs. Simply put, the music sounds too rehearsed and sterile at times. This extends to the orchestration present on a few songs. Whether they were played on real instruments or not, the strings are often accompanied by electronic drums (which sound exactly the same as they did on All Our Gods…), giving them a jagged, artificial quality. The only song they add anything to is closer “A Wasted Hymn.” For an album as emotional as this one, the processed sound is a real shame.

It is Sam Carter’s performance that often carries the album. His inimitable style of scream-singing still stands out after so many albums, and there is pain behind much of his delivery that is real and raw. Opener “Death is Not Defeat” might be his strongest vocal performance ever, by turns tender and savage, and his scream that leads into the final chorus is one of the most affecting musical moments of 2018. Tom’s memory justifies a lot of the somewhat generic lyrics, but Carter’s passionate performance does the same and may keep the band going for years to come.

In some ways, Holy Hell is a sort of morbid mulligan, an excusable placeholder while the band figures out where to go from here. “All is not lost,” Carter intones over and over at the beginning of “A Wasted Hymn”, seemingly trying to convince himself and his bandmates. Searle’s absence is felt the most in this song. The lyrics, likely written by Dan, speak of phantom limbs and the cost of love, and the bridge poses a heartbreaking question: “Can you live a life worth dying for?” Architects have never shied away from clarion calls to action, but this is the band at their most inspiring and effectual, filling in the empty space left behind after a monumental loss. It is an epitaph that nonetheless suggests a bright future ahead.



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user ratings (293)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
Simon CONTRIBUTOR (4)
Yup, they still sound like Architects....

Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (3)
Architects push past death and fall somewhere short....

Mason Pearmain (4)
A slight step back from previous works, but still noteworthy in its own right....



Comments:Add a Comment 
AgentDeathbat
November 10th 2018


1837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Good album, not perfect, you touched on some important issues surrounding this record as well.

calmrose
November 10th 2018


3889 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review Chan

Digging: Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want

Danred97
November 10th 2018


1895 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review. I will say that this album is definitely great, but it does feel like it's missing something. Maybe they've just exhausted this sound, but I feel it lacked the punch or urgency of their last two albums. Still, I am glad that these guys are still around and didn't decide to call it quits. I think this album is just a bit of growing pains without Tom.

rc239
November 10th 2018


234 Comments


i dont even listen to metalcore anymore but this album rips

GhostB1rd
November 11th 2018


1785 Comments


Shame on you for implicating Trophy Scars in this muck.

BallsToTheWall
November 11th 2018


49001 Comments


I hate this guy’s vocals too much to want to give them
Any more chances.

Digging: Protector - Golem

BassDemon333
November 11th 2018


3435 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome review and nice to see some love for A Wasted Hymn. Pretty sure if they ever play that song live it will be one of if not the most emotional part of their set.

Spec
November 11th 2018


35531 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Love this.

Storm In A Teacup
November 11th 2018


24550 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

the intro to the title track really throws me off but this is excellent stuff as always.



also love the summary

AgentDeathbat
November 11th 2018


1837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Three of the first four tracks begin with the chorus, and one of them begins with two repeats of the chorus.

So it isn't exclusive to the t/t.

Storm In A Teacup
November 11th 2018


24550 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

that's not what I'm talking about. it just sounds weird.

AgentDeathbat
November 11th 2018


1837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I feel ya, but this "chorus starting a song" shit does annoy me a tad.

Storm In A Teacup
November 11th 2018


24550 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

it really throws me off man. the electronic intro to "Holy Hell" comes in so awkward and the way it combines with the vocals a quarter of a second later makes it even more awkward. I don't normally get this off guard by the instrumentation of a song but it has happened on an Architects album strange enough.

AgentDeathbat
November 11th 2018


1837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah, that alone is why I'm stuck between giving it a 3.5/5 or a 3/5 as my track rating on RYM.

AgentDeathbat
November 11th 2018


1837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

At least with Hereafter and Death Is Not Defeat, the instrumentation isn't unsettling in the slightest.

Evreaia
November 11th 2018


5028 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

To bad the best song here is (kind of) an interlude.

Asura14
November 11th 2018


106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review man, also wish the drums played a bigger role specially considering how good Dan is

Digging: Architects - Holy Hell

karpatfalvi
November 11th 2018


6 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I don’t see why I should see the fact that they still use the same formulas, even though they lost a musician, a friend, as a selling point. The lyrics are average as always, and the vocal delivery is getting more and more strained (as they should, but not in a good way). This is enjoyable, but mediocre at best, but I can see why it appeals for the fans.

TundraL5Z
November 11th 2018


1961 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Definitely, definitely not as good as AOGHAU but I never really expected it to be THAT good anyway

Digging: The Ocean - Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

Comatorium.
November 11th 2018


4844 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Band hasn’t sounded any different since whatever came after hollow crown. Can’t eemwmber cause they literally all sound the same. This is no different and I don’t see how this band became the force they have, but hey good for them.



I don’t feel like losing a band member justifies painfully generic lyrics, breakdown, riffs... really their whole shtick is generic.



You leave trophy scars out of this.



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