With a matured sound that represents a powerful, emotional exploration of the members themselves, Architects return with their eighth studio album, Holy Hell.
Architects are undeniably a titan of the UK music scene. Having headlined the prestigious Alexandra Palace earlier in the year, they can only be described as being meteoric. Holy Hell marks the beginning of a new chapter for the band. As their first release since the tragic passing of lead guitarist Tom Searle, this album – as told by Dan Searle, frontman and brother of Tom to BBC Newsbeat – sports the message that “light can be found in the darkest of places”. He supported his statement by expressing that he hoped people would be about to “take [something] away from this record” and that Tom’s best pieces can be found “all over” it. Rather than solely focusing on this tragedy, it feels as though Holy Hell has the intentions of showcasing the talents of Searle and his bandmate’s musicianship before anything else.
The album provides a certain contrast to their previous records. Although many of their songs such as Dying to Heal, and Damnation feature the fierce riffs that are well known to fans, each song features a new layer of clean and empty interludes. This combination is best conveyed in Hereafter. The introduction begins with a haunting, slow and layered vocal introduction that is supported by a textual atmospheric background. However, the track then falls into a spiral of chaotic mayhem which then reforms into the unique, djent driven style which Architects fans often associate with their live performances. This sudden tonal change repeatedly occurs between each verse and chorus, as well as in the period just before breakdown. Similar patterns of fluctuation can be found in tracks Holy Hell, Modern Misery and the poignant final track A Wasted Hymn.
One need only listen to this final anthem to fully understand the multifaceted emotion that this album embodies. There is a distinct sense of lingering. The omnipresent atmospherics and orchestral violins draw us in and gradually, coupled with vocals and distorted guitars, led us out into silence. The lyrics also highlight a feeling of emotional endurance. They feature unanswerable and ominous questions, echoed in two voices, one screaming and another singing, which really build the sense of energy and emotion in the album. Other tracks on this album, such as Doomsday and Royal Beggars really highlight these features, giving the listener an opportunity to access the grief-stricken sound rooted in this album’s core.
Older fans of Architects should not be discouraged by the development of their cleaner, less distorted sound that can be found in sections of this records. They have not abandoned their original, gritty and brutal features. The Seventh Circle features a lot of hard-rock and heavier elements where the vocals are dominated by aggressive screams. Mortal After All and introductory anthem Death Is Not Defeat also matches Seventh Circle’s intensity, not withdrawing from the energetic djent riffs that have made Architects a staple in the metalcore genre. Architects evidently do not intend to detach themselves from their past and have no reason to do so. Many of the riffs, according to Dan Searle, are “riffs on the end of demo tapes” made by Tom himself, prior to his death. By featuring these heavier pieces, created in a time prior to the grief of Tom’s passing, Architects have crafted an album that holds onto the beloved elements of their past and moulded them into sonic form.
by George Knight and Callum Huthwaite.