Architects – Holy Hell
Released: November 9th, 2018
Sam Carter // Vocals
Adam Christianson // Rhythm Guitar
Ali Dean // Bass
Dan Searle // Drums
Josh Middleton // Lead Guitar
Here we have it, the most emotionally driven album this year has been eagerly anticipating from one of the BEST metalcore bands in the world right now, Architects. You know the history. You know the heartache, the tears, the physical and mental breakdowns this band has endured since the tragic passing of their founding guitarist/songwriter/brother Tom Searle back in 2016. But now, we, as fans, finally get to experience what they went through and how they’ve processed and overcome it, through their new album Holy Hell which sees Sylosis frontman/guitarist Josh Middleton take the reigns from Tom (with his and the band’s blessing) to fill the void left by his untimely passing.
The album begins with a slow, tear-inducing string selection for opening track ‘Death Is Not Defeat‘ which wastes no time setting up the theme of endearment after loss which is present throughout the album. It’s not long before the synth, drum beat and Sam Carter‘s now iconic soft vocal screams bring us in and guide us through the opening seconds. By the time the chorus hits you in the face, we’ve got yet another instant classic (and guaranteed live banger) on our hands complete with plenty of heavy moments, guttural screams and a fat as fuck breakdown which will certainly please the band’s heavy fans. Parkway Drive pulled off the heavy metal/string selection earlier this year with Reverence and Architects have boldly stood up and proved they’re capable of nailing it too with this offering. ‘Hereafter‘ keeps the momentum (and emotions) flowing next with equally impressive riffs and a prog/djent infused vibe that is complete with breakdowns, bellowing clean vocals and our first “blegh” of the album (for those of you interested). If you don’t find yourself screaming the chorus “Now the oceans have drained out/Can I come up for air?/‘Cos I’ve been learning to live without/And I’m fighting with broken bones” then there is something wrong with you. Dan Searle nails the drums like a madman bashing his fists into drywall, making sure every kick and beat is felt throughout your body. ‘Mortal After All‘ ever so briefly slows the tempo down for a short second 10 seconds of synth before Carter‘s screams kick off a sexy riff-infused all in attack that just makes you want to move around. The chuggy breakdown before the third act can be felt inside your chest and I can definitely see this one becoming the crowd pump up song at future shows. From start to end, it keeps you wanting more but satisfies your hungry needs by the time the final note fades out.
‘Holy Hell‘ begins with a style/sound I haven’t heard from Architects yet. The strings are back and more prominent, Sam Carter‘s soft screams are present too, but this assortment of music pulls us towards another action-packed, all-in offering which boasts exceptional fast and heavy riffs as both Adam Christianson and Josh Middleton bounce off each other in a cat-and-mouse styled play off. If after the first listen you’re not sold on it, take it for a second and third spin and I guarantee you’ll be frothing over it by then. ‘Damnation‘ is proggy, sexy and pelvic thrust inducing goodness which is fun to thrash as loud as possible from start to end. Ali Dean is on show this time with his basslines combining both groove and fast-paced action throughout that just compliment the lead and rhythm guitars to a tee. ‘Royal Beggars‘ or ‘Royal Bleghars’ as fans have dubbed it is next and if you haven’t heard this song yet, you need to take a good hard look at yourself and what you’re doing with your life. Its raw, melodic, heavy, slow and ballad-esque all in one, plus it’s got the exceptional breakdown call sign of “We sit on a throne waiting for god to bend the knee/But we’re nothing more than/Royal beggars… BLEGH!!” Can’t fucking wait to hear this song live when the band eventually make their way back to Australia for their next headline tour (which we all know will be fucking huge).
‘Modern Misery‘ follows next and this up-tempo (somewhat ballad-esque) banger will no doubt be the reason a plethora of fans will be sporting new lyric inspired tattoos after this album is released, because “we used to run with the wolves” is not only plastered prominently throughout, its a catchy as fuck earworm that’ll bloody get you chanting/singing along every time you hear it. Great song, nothing else needs to be said about it. ‘Dying To Heal‘ leads in slowly to what can only be described as an action-packed, fierce array of musicianship from the Architects lads. Between Sam’s screams, Dans’ absolutely flawless drumming and the guitarists, we have the makings of a massive sounding stadium metal track, but you better save some energy for the absolute, mindblowing mental-ness of ‘The Seventh Circle‘, which is a ferociously fast, frenzy-inducing sample of just how fucking talented this band are. At only 1:47 seconds, it does more to increase my heart-rate than any all you can eat buffet has managed to achieve in the past. I guarantee if you heard this song live, there would be no way you’d be able to survive the moshpit if it were any longer than its actual time. Fuck me. For the doubters, this is the track you show them to get them to change their mind. It’s also the one you show heavy fans who are yet to jump on the Architects bandwagon yet. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you extended a breakdown to over a minute and a half, this is the outcome. Oh man, by the end of it I felt like I needed a cigarette… and I don’t even smoke anymore!
‘Doomsday‘ (in my opinion) is one of the best songs ever written, recorded and performed live by any band within the past three decades I’ve been present on this earth. I have said in many articles, opinion pieces and even an interview with the guys, that this song helped me to grieve following the passing of my mother back in 2016. What I found so captivating about it, is the number of emotions you go through when listening to it from start to finish. Love. Sadness. Anger. Relief. It’s all there. This is what perfection sounds like and if you disagree I’m ready with facts to prove you wrong. Being one of the last songs Tom Searle had a part in writing, it will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Architects’ fans, members, family and friends of the band for years to come. This song has over 18.9 million spins on YouTube and I guarantee you, no word of a lie, I have contributed to at least 10,000 + of those hits. Turn it up loud, ignore everything around and you listen to this absolute heavy music masterpiece. Closing out the album is ‘A Wasted Hymn‘ and the band nail this climax with passion, melody and a fantastic array of instrumentals with both the Architects lads and the string players giving their all for this heartstring-tugging finale which holds your hand all the way to the final closing lyrics of “now its time to sink or swim/I’ve got nothing except this wasted hymn/holy ghost/nothing lasts forever”. Its a contrasting song that feels both dark and full of light at the same time and will no doubt be a great closing song for the band in future years (that is before they come back on stage for the encore).
In closing, this album is magnificent. It not only wraps up Tom Searle‘s time within the band perfectly but also kicks off the next era without him. In emotional moments of loss and tragedy, there comes a time when you have to stop dwelling on the past and move on with your head held high, confident about the future and all it has to offer. This is the band’s way of showing they’re at that stage. The next phase of the band has begun and its well and truly off to an invigoratingly passionate start.
Architects – Holy Hell tracklisting
1. Death Is Not Defeat
3. Mortal After All
4. Holy Hell
6. Royal Beggars
7. Modern Misery
8. Dying To Heal
9. The Seventh Circle
11. A Wasted Hymn