Few bands are willing or capable of documenting the abyss, an existential realm that lies in the shadows, between the now and then. Those that submit themselves to such pain more often than not succumb to it. Joy Division did it, and we all know how that worked out. In their final years there was Nirvana and the primal rage of ‘In Utero’. Perhaps most notable is the work the Manic Street Preachers committed to tape in 1994, the monochrome ambition of Richard James Edwards spread across the 13 tracks of ‘The Holy Bible’.
Unsurprisingly for a band whose visionary guitarist and creative fulcrum died of cancer at the age of just 28, Architects have circled the abyss for three albums now. Tom Searle departed this world four years ago, but his influence – directly or not – is felt throughout the superb run of 2014’s ‘Lost Forever // Lost Together’, 2016’s ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’ and 2018’s ‘Holy Hell’. These classic albums liberated the Brighton band from generic metalcore drudger, drenched in such sadness they choked the air flow in any room their songs were played in. They made Architects an important band; a metal band that matter.
But how much is too much? How much misery can six-young men endure? At what point does some light need to penetrate such all-encompassing sadness?
Forthcoming ninth album ‘For Those That Wish To Exist’ – from which three new songs are showcased tonight – is the most hopeful Architects have sounded in years. Huge chunks of light illuminate the new record, in the form of bubbly synthesiser – it would be interesting to know how much Linkin Park have been streamed in Brighton recently – and the revelation that is throaty screamer Sam Carter’s cultured, clean vocals. Fittingly for a record principally concerned with negating environmental destruction, there is rage and there is regret; you’d expect this from a group who have titled one of their new songs ‘Dead Butterflies’. But here Architects aren’t shouting at you as much as with you.
It becomes clear by the midpoint of this evening, as the band utilise every bit of this grand old room – stage, floor, rafters – in their performance, that bruising new single ‘Animals’ is better viewed as a bridge to the new rather than entirely indicative of it. If you want an insight into where Architects are heading, then the freshly aired ‘Discourse Is Dead’ tells us more. The song is big beautiful, its string parts stabbing and swirling; a crystal chipped at with the sharpest shale.
Classics such as opener ‘Nihilist’ and closer ‘Doomsday’ demonstrate a band at the peak of their talents, yet it’s their embrace of the new colours in their palate that indicates Architects’ longevity. On the basis of these new songs, they’re heading somewhere remarkable indeed. The abyss might well groan, but it’s likely that the hearts of those who tuned in tonight will have soared.
‘Discourse Is Dead’
‘Death Is Not Defeat’
‘Gone With the Wind’
‘Mortal After All’
‘A Wasted Hymn’
‘A Match Made in Heaven’