Architects – The Classic Symptoms of a Broken Spirit


It’s a long way to the top. Ask the members of Architects after eighteen years of touring, the tragic death of a band member (Tom Searle – RIP), and the triumph of conquering the American billboard charts in 2014 before landing their first UK number one with last year’s For Those that Wish to Exist. The English heroes are one of the most imitated bands in modern metalcore and can take the blame for the abundance of mediocre clones that saturate today’s scene. We despaired at the quintet’s 2021 effort, calling it ‘an uninspired piece of radio rock nonsense’, but they appear to be back on track with album number ten, thanks to a shift towards industrial metal. It’s not a patch on the latest Northlane record, but it’s a big improvement on their bland predecessor LP.

There’s a lot to like about Architects despite their inauspicious beginnings as Dillinger Escape Plan copyists and their later exploration of emo and post-hardcore in the early 2010s. In Sam Carter, they have one of the most gifted vocalists in rock and metal and one of the most influential on the current generation. One listen to the opening salvo of ‘Deep Fake’ and ‘Tear Gas’ is enough to convince you that Architects still have plenty of vitriol to unleash. The former is like a crunchier version of Linkin Park on steroids with a vaporising Meshuggah breakdown to remind you that landing at the top of the charts last year did not diminish their appetite for the heavier stuff. You can hear the might of mid-90s Prong in the syncopated chugs of the latter composition. Clearly, Josh Middleton and Adam Christianson made sure to put the guitars at the front of the mix for this record.

Close your eyes for the marvellous chorus of ‘Spit the Bone’ and you can hear Trent Reznor’s ideal vocal register if he had the ability to turn his aggression into the fearsome melodic rage synonymous with Sam Carter. The band dare to include a sleazy Marilyn Manson synth-beat here, but the first problems occur when they slip into the formulaic Linkin Park dross of their last record on ‘Burn Down My House’ and ‘Doomscrolling’. Both songs demand a more challenging musical architecture to bring the best out of Carter’s confident vocal lines and poignant chorus deliveries. ‘Born Again Pessimist’ leaves you with the polite observation that Architects “are good at what they do”, which is a euphemism for avoiding overt criticism. At least two of the efforts here repeat the epic chorus of ‘Animals’ from 2021 but with less force. And that’s the real issue here. The band find it too easy to burn through eleven songs. Every track follows the same verse-bridge-chorus structure with a firm emphasis on Sam Carter’s magnificent voice to produce the goods.

Fortunately, the group’s experience means they know a thing or two about extracting the most from the radio formula approach to song writing. The lyrics for ‘When We Were Young’ stand out for their mature observation that idealism and fearlessness die with age: “When we were young, we thought we had it all figured out/ Now we only speak in tongues.” See how your narrowed eyes and clenched fists are in perfect coordination for ‘All the Love in the World’ by the time Carter screams, “The signal’s dropping out/ It never rains, it’s always fucking torrential/ They say it’s best that we forget our potential/ Have we nothing left to sing about now?/ Do I really wanna shout about all the love in the world?”

We already know that metalcore and industrial can have a future thanks to the pioneering work of Northlane. Architects might be guilty of rushing this album so soon after releasing a chart-topper, but they needed to extricate themselves from a radio rock nightmare, and they manage to do that here with a safe but dependable return. It might be predictable, but it’s more enjoyable than their last effort and as good as the new record from their label mates in Parkway Drive.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 21/10/2022

Record Label: Epitaph Records

Standout tracks: Deep Fake, Tear Gas, All the Love in the World

Suggested Further Listening: Parkway Drive – Darker Still (2022), Prong – Rude Awakening (1996), Northlane – Obsidian (2022)