Architects: Album Review

Album – For Those Who Wish to Exist

Architects are a British metalcore band formed back in 2004 in Brighton. Having released a whopping 8 studio albums before this year, the band have quickly established themselves in recent years among some of the potential huge heavy bands to carry the genre way into the future and be the next titans, alongside the likes of Bring Me the Horizon and Parkway Drive. Their new album is one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year and, if the singles so far are anything to go by, it should be fantastic. Let’s see, shall we?

May be an image of 5 people, people standing and outdoors

The opening track, Do You Dream of Armageddon?, is a short intro track and one that perfectly sets the tone of the album. While not including any guitars or big drums, it is undoubtedly heavy, filled with some beautiful strings that build up and swell more and more, perfectly accentuating the great, pretty profound lyrics. Sam Carter’s vocals fit perfectly over the top of this epic little intro, and it is hard to have any complaints about it really, a great start!

The album’s second single, Black Lungs, is next, and damn does it bring a whole other level of heavy to the proceedings. Opening on a short, dirty bassline with drums sounding far off in the distance before the song EXPLODES into a huge, insane riff that immediately made me put it straight on the playlist. The band have been accused a lot over the last couple of years or so of trying to emulate Bring Me The Horizon a little too much, and I can definitely see where those people are coming from. However, when the song quality is this good from the offset, I really don’t see it as an issue. Sam’s vocals come in for the verse, the band dropping out aside from one guitar for the first couple of lines and it sounding awesome. The backing vocals highlighting the odd line and adding even more layers of harsh vocals on top of the main line adds some great depth and sound to it all, too. A stripped back pre leads to a huge, open chorus, filled with catchy vocals, great harmonies and some synth in the back that makes the whole thing sound HUGE. It drops down after the second chorus, not too far off from the opening song, before it builds through Sam’s progressively more aggressive vocals into a massively heavy breakdown. It’s simple but the heavy guitar and bass combined with the Carter’s scream and the huge gang vocals over the top make for a great sound. It soon heads into a final chorus before heading back into the awesome breakdown to finish off. This was fantastic. While it definitely had a very radio friendly structure and feel to out (outside of the screams) it was still an awesome, heavy song and maybe one of my favourites of the year so far!

Giving Blood opens on a high guitar riff that sounds eerily similar to Cane Hill’s Lord of the Flies but without the Nu-Metal guitar effect, but the rest of the band soon come in behind it to add some awesome rhythm. The song drops back down again for a short verse, leaving what sounds to be just drums, vocals and bass, which was a nice touch. It then quickly heads into the chorus, using the same riff as the intro but just adding vocals over the top. The vocals are again very catchy, reminding me a lot of the last Bullet for my Valentine album, actually. It’s a simple formula but it works pretty well. However, the second verse is twice as long as the first, it slowing down even more into half speed and having slower drums and vocals, a nice touch to add some interest to the song. The song again drops down to a similar pace as the second verse out of the second chorus, but this time minus the drums, it just being the low vocals and the synth. It’s a nice chance to relax and strip the song back a bit, giving a small break from the heaviness of the album so far. It builds back up nicely with the drums before again heading into a final chorus to end. This wasn’t quite as excellent as the previous song, but it was still damn good.

Discourse is Dead is the heaviest song on the album so far, mainly for the amazing verses and the riff coming out of the first chorus. The instrumentation is simple but down-tuned to perfection, getting such a great sound out of just a few simple notes. The vocals are harsh and screamed too, with the odd backing lower scream making it sound even more awesome. The chorus is still cleaner vocally and massively catchy too, having very much the best of both sides of the band these days. There isn’t much more I can say about this song, the various bridges and stripped back choruses in the middle of the song sound good, but the highlight here for me is easily the verses and the breakdown riff.

Time for another single, this time Dead Butterflies. Opening on some awesome synth stuff and adding some drum stuff behind it, soon descends into an awesome riff that I think uses horns by the sound of it. Whatever instrument they used to get that sound, it’s awesome. However, the verse dropping down to next to nothing behind the vocals before exploding into a huge, open sounding chorus is starting to feel a little bit like diminishing returns already. I understand that as a single it must be radio friendly, and I’m certainly not asking for prog or anything, but 85% of this album’s songs sit around the 3-4 minute mark, and if they are all a similar structure with very little changing up in the middle I do worry I’ll start to get a little bored by the end. This is a good song, don’t get me wrong, but when compared to the likes of Black Lung or the previous song there isn’t much of note happening that hasn’t already been done on other tracks. I wrote all of this entry while listening to the song from start to finish, hoping that something would happen that would change my mind, but nothing did. The strings were a nice addition, I guess. Next!

The next couple of songs, An Ordinary Extinction and Impermanence (Feat Winston McCall of Parkway Drive) both feel like they suffer from a similar sort of issue as the previous song. Again, both songs are good, very good even, but they do very little different to some of the other songs on the album, and those other songs simply do it better. Heck, the only thing that stood out to me about Extinction was that I LOVED Sam’s high scream heading into the chorus, it sounded so effortless and controlled yet so good. More of that please. Impermanence was the better of the two songs, mainly because Winston’s powerfuller low scream contrasted so well again Carter’s higher, scrappier one. However, I do have to say that I think the chorus in it is by far the weakest of the songs so far, it was just kind of there, nothing special. However, they make up for it with the panning guitars during the breakdowns, something that I will always love no matter what song it is in. Also, Winston’s line before the breakdown is incredible, being a highlight of the whole album so far and just making me want new Parkway even more already. As I said, both are good songs, but it’s starting to wear a little thin for me, I think.

As if they heard me, Flight Without Feathers is finally something different, slower and more ballad-like than the rest of the album so far. It’s very focused on the clean vocals, mostly with the beautiful, atmospheric synth and simple drums behind it. While I wouldn’t say the chorus is all that catchy, just having something different, something that is focused mainly on their electronic side than their heavy, distorted breakdown side of things, was enough of a nice change of pace to note down. Plus, I enjoyed it a hell of a lot. It’s not really the sort of song that would make the playlist, but it was damn good none the less.

Little Wonder is another track that has a great guest artist, this time Mike Kerr of Royal Blood. Unfortunately, the song does fall back into the similar vein of Ordinary Extinction and Giving Blood. Again, it is good song, and I enjoyed the slightly different vocal style Kerr brought to the table during the second verse, but the chorus also massively reminds me of Throne by BMTH, an unquestionably better song, so it just makes me want to listen to that now instead.

We finally reach the lead single of the album and the song that got me as pumped as I was for it, Animals. A simple but heavy, chuggy riff to open gives way to a now token stripped back verse of vocals, drums and keys. It then explodes into a huge, open, BMTH-esque chorus. The vocals are catchy and the lyrics are fantastic, backed by some great instrumentation from the rest of the band. It drops down to a simple drumbeat and a siren sound after the second chorus, the vocals being built in until the best breakdown on the album comes in. It is again so simple but the panning guitars and this time an added china cymbal add so much depth and epicness to it all. Again, with a lot of their songs they go into a final chorus to end. I have to admit after hearing a couple of the other songs on here, it isn’t the best song on the album and I didn’t quite like it as much as I did the first time as a result, but it is still a damn good song and one that easily made the playlist!

Libertine has a similar structure to Discourse is Dead, a heavy riff and a catchy, radio-friendly chorus. It’s good, but not quite as good as the other song for the simple reason that the heavy guitar riff isn’t quite as good. I meanwhile got excited when I read Simon Neil’s (Biffy Clyro) name next to the next track, Goliath, hoping that someone from a very different style of band would help to add some variety to the album. I was wrong. While it was cool to hear his voice over something heavier (man I wish Biffy would do a fully heavy album again) and his scream towards the end of his part is FUCKING INSANE, but outside of that this isn’t much to write home about this song. That scream though, I cannot get enough of it, highlight of the album for me. The riff for the song is pretty good, too.

Demi God is just a slower version of some of the other songs on the album already, and I’m running out of stuff to say about it. I think my issue is that the album as a whole is just too bloated. It’s 15 tracks and just under an hour in length. While in theory that is good, getting as much material out there to your fans as possible and give them value for money ect, in practice when a band with a rather specific style of music do something so long it ends up getting a little repetitive. As I’ve said in other reviews around the subject, the songs themselves are all good, the issue lies that when listening to them together they all kind of blend into one and become forgettable. I couldn’t tell you a single highlight of this song, it is the definition of filler.

Meteor is the final and most recent single on the album. While it opens heavy, going straight into a huge, heavy riff and has some great lyrics in there, some of the best on the album in fact, it may be my least favourite of the singles. It’s heavy and catchy, but achieves nothing that Black Lungs and Animals hasn’t already done. Dying is Absolutely Safe, safe, however, was exactly what I’ve been waiting this entire album for. A frigging acoustic ballad, something completely different to the rest of the album, yet they put it right at the end so you have to listen to over 50 minutes of the same stuff to reach it. It’s beautiful, simply an acoustic guitar, the vocals and some incredible strings to back it all up. The lyrics are incredible too, profound and emotional and some of the best on the album. I’m not even mad for once that a slow song closes the album as it was that much of a needed change that I was all for it. When the drums and the choir vocals kick in at 3:30 it honestly gave me goosebumps, it was beautiful and epic and emotional and everything. I could gush about this song so much, but I’ll stop now because this review is already long enough. Playlisted, easily.

Overall: I have slightly mixed feelings about this. The heavy riffs and breakdowns and screams were all insane, and that slow ballad at the end was one of the best modern ballads I’ve ever heard, but all the stuff in the middle was… well… middling. It all blended together a little too much and all began to sound kind of samey towards the middle. Still, the good more than outweighed the bad here, and I think it’s definitely up there in the top few albums of the year so far, not that it’s a massively long list.

Overall: 7.5/10

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The review by musician, blogger & author – Joe Griffiths

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