Review Summary: +1 BLEGH!“[…]today i am 34, not 18, and although i don’t have my anger all figured out, it is not the only feeling that calls to be expressed when i create music […] yes, there are plenty of reasons to be angry and that feeling is represented in these songs, but there are more complex feelings present here too.[…]”
– Sam Carter (Architects’ social media 20/10/22)
In a lot of ways, I do feel for what Architects are going through at the minute. The band’s tactile struggles with writing music in recent years is remorseful, and although the band won’t capitulate openly to their distress, releasing statements on social media the day before your new record comes out says a lot about your self-awareness and the discord manifesting itself within your fanbase. For those trying to understand why Architects are trying to placate a pitchfork-wielding mob with a statement about artistic freedom and maturity one day before The Classic Symptoms of a Broken Spirit
releases, the band have found themselves in the throes of a fan backlash. The impetus to this revolution was instigated after the competition of their perfected, albeit exhausted inimitable metalcore Architects sound, found in 2018’s Holy Hell
. With that finality in place, and Tom’s presence now gone, after his untimely death, all eyes were on the band and where they were going to take their sound. Continue doing their own thing, or yield to the metalcore trait of making their stagnant sound more accessible? For Architects, they rested more on the latter resulting in one contentious little beast of a record.
Regardless of what For Those that Wish to Exist
got right, essentially the album clove the fanbase right in two – with some enjoying it and others hating the band for following the same vapid platitudes and hefty accessible leanings every other metalcore act has since That’s the Spirit
came along in 2015. For me, I was pretty optimistic about the final product: the record showed some severe flaws and dips in quality not seen since their infamously bad The Here and Now
, but the album still had enough going for it to stop it from being an egregious experience. Nevertheless, I still understood where the harsh criticism came from, and though I enjoyed For Those that Wish to Exist
, the album was an obvious step backwards for the band. Just one year after the album’s release and the band have spent 2022 ramping up hype for a new album; the problem is that there’s been a noticeable level of ire being aimed at almost every single that’s dropped for this album’s promotional build up. The singles just don’t have a great deal there for hardcore Architects fans, and frankly, the austere arrangements, generic presentations, and eye rolling mainstream tricks didn’t exactly send me into a fit of excitement to jam this thing for its review.
Thankfully, The Classic Symptoms of a Broken Spirit
isn’t the serious misfire I expected it to be. The LP is a more streamlined spiritual successor to For Those that Wish to Exist
, one that ditches guest spots and focuses on big choruses, stomping rock riffs and poignant electronics scuttling behind the curtains. Even the singles have grown on me in the context of the completed album. Like their last LP songs are much, much simpler than anything pre-Holy Hell
, focusing on the mid-tempo rock sound from last year’s venture and Sam’s vocal hooks over the noodle-heavy riffing of yore, and the results are pretty solid. Yeah, there are some iffy moments on here, but on the whole, I can’t help but feel consumed by the infectious choruses being presented to me here; they feel earned and work well in getting stuck in your head. Songs like “Burn Down My House”, “Tear Gas”, “When We Were Young” and “Deep Fake” all have rewarding, angsty choruses that are well executed by Sam and the rest of the crew. With that in mind, if you’re not a fan of this direction, it’ll be easy for you to gauge whether you check this out or not, but from the basis of being a heavy rock album, there’s plenty of solid executions here.
Of course, The Classic Symptoms of a Broken Spirit
is far from perfect. “Spit the Bone” is arguably the worst track ever written by Architects, “Doomscrolling” is a lazy and recycled version of “Burn Down My House”, and “Tear Gas”’s jarring Rammstein-industrialised verse is a little weird to digest from these guys, but on the whole The Classic Symptoms of a Broken Spirit
keeps its nose clean and fluctuates in between bland and decent, mainly staying in the latter camp than the former. If there was any serious criticism here, where this album falters most is in its homogenous writing style. At least For Those that Wish to Exist
had plenty of different sounding songs to listen to, whether they all succeeded or not. Here, the album rides on the same mid-tempo pattern and stays the course until the end. Regardless, Architects have made another harmless, inconsequential rock album that’s worth spinning once or twice for curiosity, as there are some decent – dare I say great – moments here.
The cynical side of my brain is fully aware that Architects have, once again, just managed to crawl over the finish line and have exerted a lot of energy in doing it, and I have to wonder how long they can keep this up for? The sound that led to Holy Hell
took six years to perfect, with a bit of breathing room for all of its derivative aspects; here, I can’t see fans affording the band the same amount of time to make more albums in this vein. Hell, I don’t even think I can enjoy another album like this. As macabre as it is, one wonders where the band would be if Tom was still alive and at the helm today. Would the band still be heading down this path? Obviously, there’s no way of knowing, but it’s hard to deny his presence is sorely missed in Architects in 2022.