ALBUM REVIEW: Architects – For Those That Wish To Exist
Photo Credit: Ed Mason
British metalcore act Architects have long been leaders of heavy music. Bursting onto the scene with their breakout third album Hollow Crown, the personally hard-hitting collection of songs cemented the Brighton band’s roots in more melodic metalcore, as opposed to their hardcore punk beginnings. The next trilogy of full-lengths followed, Lost Forever // Lost Together, All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us and the masterpiece of a record that is Holy Hell – the first two a string of releases spearheaded by brothers and founding members Dan and Tom Searle, the latter a cathartic legacy for the late Tom Searle that still resonates with the remainder of Architects and their listeners alike.
Now on album number nine, For Those That Wish To Exist, Architects are switching up the status quo in more ways than one. The fifteen-track full-length defies the short, sharp releases of singles and EP’s in a fast paced music industry, in favour of a lengthy LP that serves up a heavy dose of lyrical reality, analysing our collective actions that are directly affecting planet earth’s destruction and, moreover, our ability to rally round as a society to strive for a better, brighter future.
Sonically, the record steps away from the five-piece’s mathcore beginnings for a venture that travels into uncharted, synth-driven electronics and grandiose orchestral sounds, that still don’t stray too far away from their instantly recognisable melodic metalcore identity. Teased during the band’s Live From Royal Albert Hall live stream gig and on album tasters Animals, Black Lungs, Dead Butterflies and Meteor, it seems this evolutionary sound, along with its songwriting centred around the concept of human existence, proves why Architects’ new album is their most lyrically ambitious and sonically shapeshifting album to date.
Opener Do You Dream Of Armageddon? sets the tone for the challenging shift in new musical territory that For Those That Wish To Exist sets out to explore, starting with a section of strings that progressively swell into steadily building synths and drums, before solemn vocals glide their way into the grand sounding song. Clocking in just short of a mere two minutes, Do You Dream Of Armageddon? doesn’t compromise on its majestic and monumental sound.
Lyrically, For Those That Wish To Exist is a call to arms for us all to analyse the state of our actions and the way in which they affect the destruction of the world we live in – Black Lungs alongside An Ordinary Extinction share these similar themes. Animal rights and climate crisis issues have been at the forefront of Architects artistry for some time, as the band became fully-fledged vegans, as well as open supporters of wildlife protection association Hunt Saboteurs and marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd, with frontman Sam Carter an ambassador of the latter group. Such concepts can be heard in the first of the two tracks Black Lungs, a hard-hitting number that begs us to challenge our collective human condition in order to change it for a future that avoids environmental extinction, without being overly self-critical of our individual efforts. Carter’s clean vocals cry out in despair “This world is dying in our arms”, question “What would you do to stay alive if the planet was burning?” and plead “Will enough be enough when we’re holding on for dear life?”. Backed by heavy, arena rock worthy instruments and newfound orchestral arrangements, second single Black Lungs is a blistering track that takes Architects‘ ethics and thrusts them to the forefront.
Written well before 2018’s Holy Hell was released, Discourse Is Dead demonstrates Architects‘ ability to lure us all in with some ambient electronics before hitting us with the heavy stuff – a sonic approach found throughout For Those That Wish To Exist. Starting off with a short ambient electronic intro, the deep cut delves into pit worthy post-hardcore instrumentals, as crashing cymbals and intense riffs amp up the energy. The vocals on the song hear Carter return to the guttural screams and yells, synonymous to that of the band’s earlier material. Backed by battering breakdowns, glitchy electronics, heavenly choir-like vocals and soaring string sections, Discourse Is Dead is a dense metalcore-meets-electronicore-meets-orchestral number.
Single number three, Dead Butterflies, is the first taste of Architects testing the sonic waters, exploring orchestral arrangements as opposed to metalcore breakdowns, and it doesn’t disappoint. From the cinematic strings to the epic horns, the bright brass section to the shimmering synths, Dead Butterflies is a stunning song that showcases their sonic shift.
Similar to Black Lungs, An Ordinary Extinction explores the state of this dire world and the way in which it’s running rapidly towards eternal extinction, if the title is anything to go by. The song shares similarities to that of Bring Me The Horizon’s innovating EP POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR, with its wave of electronics whirs, pulsating beats and heavy surge of instrumentals, that put Josh Middleton’s crunching guitar riffs front and centre, ultimately bridging the gap between heavy music and experimental electronics. Carter shows off his vocal adaptability, seamlessly transitioning between sinister cleans in the verses and menacing screams in the climaxing choruses, stating: “We’re stood at the edge of the world”, “We’re fighting to stay alive” and “How can we all survive?/No second chances” Displayed side-by-side with drummer, and primary songwriter, Dan Searle’s inspiring lyrical style, the delivery of this song makes Carter one of the best, most versatile vocalists the scene has to offer, on one of the standout deep cuts on For Those That Wish To Exist.
The first of three collaborations within the fifteen songs comes in the form of Impertinence. Featuring Winston McCall of Parkway Drive, Impertinence retains hard-hitting heaviness throughout its entire duration, unlike other tracks on the record, from the pummelling instruments in the chorus to McCall’s building growls in the bridge, culminating into a searing head banging breakdown. The atmospheric and heavy track is a vocal masterclass from Carter and McCall, whose bellows and screams bounce off each other, only ever getting harsher and harsher in their ascent.
The stripped-back beautiful acoustics of Flight Without Feathers follows, before the second collaboration in Little Wonder. Featuring Mike Kerr, bassist and vocalist of Royal Blood, this guest spot inevitably seems the closest to home for Carter, who formed a close friendship with Kerr before he knew much about the band. Little Wonder is made for arenas, with its catchy, anthemic chorus singing about humanity’s ignorance surrounding climate change. “I wanna sing you a different song/One that’s easier to swallow/We can dance we can all sing along/We can say how we all wanna be saved/But it’s easier to follow,” gives the track much mainstream alternative rock appeal. Backed sonically by futuristic digital distortions, racing EDM style electronics and a belter of a breakdown, Little Wonder lies somewhere between Architects’ modernised metal and Royal Blood’s danceable rock, delivering another standout song.
Lead single Animals follows and it’s a full-blown industrial heavy rock banger. The songs launches into action head first, with the bridge’s lyrics “A diamond in the mud/Infinity is waiting there ’cause nobody can burn a glass cathedral” reversed, before erupting into an unrelenting array of Searle’s searing drum beats and Middleton’s massive guitar riffs. The track doesn’t let up from here on in, with Carter’s bleak tone delivering a stark message of mortality, that acts like the calm before the approaching storm as chorus arrives in colossal style, shouting “We’re just a bunch of fucking animals/But we’re afraid of the outcome/Don’t cry to me because the fiction that we’re living in/Says I should pull the pin”. The big, bold instrumental breakdown and sirens that follow in the song’s climaxing chorus provide a sense of immediate urgency and a scare to the system, as if to say time is rapidly running out to turn around the shocking state of the planet. Even the positive whisper of “Dream within a dream” doesn’t offer up much solace, in comparison to the dire destruction of planet earth that Animals explosively addresses.
The third and final guest spot on For Those That Wish To Exist is filled by Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil. Bringing a full on, frantic screamed vocal approach to proceedings, the gigantic Goliath gets even more energetic, as massive instrumental moments courtesy of Middleton, Searle, Adam Christianson and Ali Dean step up the heavy sound. Nothing feels forced about these three guest spots, but only a mutual partnership between Architects’ friends and respective bands Parkway Drive, Royal Blood and Biffy Clyro, who have all had a hand in influencing individual members’ music tastes over time.
Single four Meteor is up next, a soaring track that speaks volumes sonically to compliment the album’s visual artwork. Meteor has a still and spacious sound to it, found throughout Carter’s angelic-like tones or that of the band’s atmospheric instrumentals. It’s these calm sounds that correspond to the heavenly sunbeams bursting through the window panes, which fall delicately down onto the almost airy, light and dusky setting of the album’s front cover.
Closer Dying Is Absolutely Safe does exactly what the track’s title suggests. Tackling the topic of human existence and mortality, the opening lines nod to this very notion: “From the cradle to the grave/Destined to break like the waves/Existence is so threatening”. Musically, the song is similar to that of Dead Butterflies, as well as A Wasted Hymn and Doomsday from Holy Hell, with swelling strings and stripped-back guitars providing some sweet melodies and chords that become brighter towards the track’s end. Marching drums and uplifting voices that “Pray for a remedy” provide a glimmer of hope and a ray of optimism to an otherwise hopeless future, if the human race doesn’t change the current state of the planet.
On For Those That Wish To Exist, Architects are breaking boundaries both sonically and lyrically. From the industrial electronic metalcore of Animals, to the moving string laden Dead Butterflies and the urgent destruction of planet earth in Black Lungs and An Ordinary Extinction, Architects have here a forward-thinking full-length that cuts above the noise from a lot of other artists in the scene.
Standout Tracks: Black Lungs, Discourse Is Dead, Dead Butterflies, An Ordinary Extinction, Little Wonder feat. Mike Kerr, Animals, Meteor
For Fans Of: Bring Me The Horizon, Bury Tomorrow, While She Sleeps
Written by: Katie Conway-Flood