LIVE REVIEW: Architects, The Royal Albert Hall, London (Live Stream), 21/11/2020
Photo Credit: Ed Mason
Tonight is a historic night. There have been plenty of bands staying connected with their fans via live streams and the like throughout the course of this disastrous year, but British metalcore juggernauts Architects are not like most. They are not settling for just your usual rehearsal space stream, rather they have decided to take to the hallowed stage of one of the world’s most renowned venues; London’s Royal Albert Hall, complete with a full live set up, platforms for the individual band members and a giant LED screen engulfing the entire back half of the stage.
Right from the start you can tell that this is going to be more than your usual stream. The camera follows vocalist Sam Carter through the historic hallways, before standing in the middle of the floor facing his band mates who are on the main stage and flying into a scathing rendition of Nihilist. This song is the perfect opener for a band like Architects, who want to grab the audience by the throat from the get-go with their ferocious riffs and bludgeoning rhythmic patterns. Carter’s vocals are as reliable as they come and tonight is the perfect example of that. He sounds like he could strip the paint from the very walls of this iconic venue, whilst also delivering the most beautiful harmonies all within the same songs.
The emptiness of this grand hall is highlighted by the natural reverb that is being generated and the impressive camera work, adding to the ominous feel of the music and adding that extra layer of atmosphere. The band have been growing their sound progressively over the past few years and have been adding layers and textures to the sound and it feels like it has all been building to this kind of project (so that is one thing we’d thank this horrendous virus for). The instrumental performance from Architects is always a selling point, but the complex rhythms of Modern Misery laid down by drummer Dan Searle and bassist Ali Dean rumbles and echoes through every inch of the room and the low tuned, technically impressive riffs from Josh Middleton and Adam Christianson sound even bigger in this environment.
Then we get something special…the first live taste of the new material from the band’s forthcoming ninth studio album, For Those That Wish to Exist, with a track named Discourse is Dead. This is a song that is going to keep the fans of the heavier side of Architects happy with its complex guitar parts and seismic breakdowns, as well as some of the biggest hooks that Carter has penned to this date. This is a band that have taken their own sound and polished it, moulded it and most importantly, they have grown it. This is the what Architects have been growing towards throughout their entirety of their career, although this is not to say that what they have laid down before hasn’t been top notch. Prior to his tragic and untimely death, Tom Searle was not only the guitarist, but the main songwriter of the band. He wrote so many great songs and parts that people love dearly to this day, and the band has found a way to stay true to his vision and use his building blocks to take their sound to the next level.
Architects mix up the set with the inclusion of Broken Cross from 2014’s Lost Forever//Lost Together before shifting seamlessly into the one-two combo of Death Is Not Defeat and Royal Beggars from their most recent studio effort Holy Hell (the latter including some beautiful vocal harmonies between Carter, Middleton and Christianson).
The next song, Gone With The Wind, is an interesting choice. Not in its inclusion, as it is a song that has become a real staple in the setlist for the band since its initial release, but in the fact that it is at this point in the set, rather than towards the end as a climactic piece. Ignoring that, the song is performed with raw passion and surgeon-like precision, with the poignant lyrics seeming even more fitting given the untimely passing of the song’s main composer and lyricist. The now famous logo that was created as a tribute to their brother in arms appears as a backdrop huge screen behind the band, as the distortion rings out. A classy, fitting tribute to the great man himself.
The next highlight comes from another song from the forthcoming new album. Animals was the first to be released to the world and contains one of the simplest sounding, yet catastrophically heavy riffs that the band have ever written, with an infectiously booming rhythmic element. The final new track in the set tonight is Dead Butterflies and it really shows the band flexing their melodic muscles. The lead guitar runs coupled with the harmonised vocals are, amongst all, adding to the textures and atmospherics of the track. However, more importantly, it includes a hook large enough to snag a blue whale and is going to be a real key element for the band’s inevitable rise to selling out arenas going forward.
Once Architects have ran through a note perfect rendition of the title-track of their most recent full-length release, they then shift the gears in truly breath-taking fashion. The members all down tools on stage and walk to the centre of the floor in front of them, sitting in a circle facing each other and playing hauntingly beautiful takes on two of their most poignant pieces, Memento Mori and A Wasted Hymn. The simplicity and raw emotion of these two songs show just how good the songwriting truly is, when you realise just how effective they can still be when they are stripped back to bare bones. It also highlights just how beautiful Carter’s vocals can be when they are laid bare, aided only by his microphone and the natural echo of an empty, historic hall.
Architects then head back to the stage for the crescendo of the set, which includes the stupidly heavy A Match Made In Heaven, the ferocious high energy Hereafter and closer Doomsday. The latter is a song that has become a mainstay for the band and it’s clear to see why with its swirling vortex of riffs, swelling basslines and massive chorus. It’s a sure-fire way for the band to cap off a night that has not just cemented them as one of the best contemporary metal bands in the UK, but in the entire world.
Architects is the most apt name in the genre at this point in time, as the band continues to lay down blueprints for everyone else to follow.
Written By: Rich Webb
Photo Credit: Ed Mason. Prints from the Royal Albert Hall show are available to purchase from Ed’s store HERE.