Architects have torn themselves down to the raw bones of their sound and rebuilt. After the tragedy Tom Searle’s (guitar) passing in 2016, it lead to questions on whether the band would ever be able to reconvene. Yet, with the joining of Josh Middleton on guitar, Architects have stepped up once again to release their eighth studio album ‘Holy Hell’
In an album, when you can feel a persons pain penetrating deeper than the intricate structure of a song, you know you are looking at more than a simple album. ‘Death Is Not Defeat’, brings about a mantra exposed to its bare roots in the records opening number. While this track encompasses a more dramatic, slower opening, in no way is this track one to leave out. From a musical perspective, the layering of this track (and album) is intricate and intriguing. With the clever heartbeat drum pattern to the hidden guitar riffs, these features help add a subconscious hidden depth. Topped with Sam Carters raw, cutting anguished vocals, this track is one of the many clever ideas Architects throw into the mix. Even single ‘Royal Beggars’ brings a diverse change to the albums nature. Dominated by deep basslines and a slower atmospheric approach, you can see the band are pushing the boundaries of their music. Carter’s lighter cleans add an ethereal tone to the track, bringing an extra kick of emotion to the curb of the tracks ultimate build-up. Architects want you to feel. To experience the pain they are writing. Listening in a full depth, the bridge’s melancholic lyricism, ‘We have totally lost our way’, offers both an emotional outpouring and a bridging connection to the albums listeners.
Yet, to long-time listeners, its a common factor for the band to bring a theme of preordained doom to their tracks. ‘Modern Misery’s’ focus on the demise of humanity plagues the lyricism of the track, forcing the track into a black hole of raw vulnerability. Even varying in themes, the nods to Tom with ‘I will go to the grave with a song still in me’ still reign ever-present. Even title-track ‘Holy Hell’s’ downbeat, gloom-ridden riffs mixed with the orchestra style strings settle as a foundation to lift the track. The full flowing impact of mortality intertwined with the theme of mourning only makes this release more heartbreaking, truthful and inspiring,
Every track has something to offer. ‘Mortal After All’ and ‘A Wasted Hymn’ bring no hesitation to throwing the truthful punches of the album at full force. Lyricism still being a strong factor, ‘A Wasted Hymn’s’ slow building bridge centres around one line – ‘Can you live a life worth dying for’. Impacting lyrics are a strength of Architects work, providing an extra layer of depth in the song. But don’t let this depth fool you. ‘Holy Hell’ is still one hell of a metal record. ‘The Seventh Circle’ projects the bands heaviest riffs and sound, with Carter’s harsh barbed-wire vocals and heavy musicality melting together in some kind of incandescent fury.
With the tragedy of 2016, it was a surprise to many that Architects recouped so soon. It would be no surprise if many gave a pass to this album, due to the pain the band have endured over the previous two years. Yet, a pass of sympathy is one not given to ‘Holy Hell’. Instead, this album is everything expected and more. As a progression from predecessor ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us‘, Architects prove themselves as a well polished band. ‘Holy Hell’ is deserving of its place – and is possibly one of the greatest pieces of work Architects have ever showcased.