After the devastating loss of guitarist Tom Searle in 2016, no one was really sure whether or not ARCHITECTS would stick it out. I’ve spoken a lot about other band’s members leaving but that’s completely different. A departure usually consists of either an amicable split where someone has to leave for personal reasons, or someone got straight up fired for being a piece of shit. The passing of Tom was a whole other beast, and something that almost any other band would have reasonably stopped creating music after experiencing. To have such a vital soul be ripped from this mortal coil is nothing short of devastating. That’s why I’m so much more thankful for Holy Hell (November 9, Epitaph Records) than I thought I would be; they didn’t have to give us this record, but they did.
With most ARCHITECTS releases, the music has a pretty noticeable moniker: groovy, atmospheric, occasionally pretty, with a turbo strapped onto the violent portion of it. Now, you can’t exactly boil down everything they do to that description, but it does fit the bill more often than not. With this new record, things shift in the slightest way though, and it’s very pleasant. While we still see the massive “bend the shit out of a low note into a carefully syncopated breakdown” thing happening quite a bit, I can hear a hell of a lot of a rock influence here. Plenty of driving rhythms, larger than life choruses, and slowed down verse breaks help put a nice finishing touch on these new tunes, while never losing sight of what they’re already incredible at.
There are even a few moments where fight riffs take precedence over everything and it’s cool as fuck. All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us saw an introduction to many many more electronic elements than before, and Holy Hell expands upon that new frontier, allowing lovely ambient verse breaks such as the ones in “Royal Beggars”, which I have grown quite fond of. Sam (vocals) has an excellent clean singing range, and not using something like that would be a crime. “Doomsday’ is another one showcasing this. On the other hand, “Modern Misery” hits like a ten ton hammer from start to finish. I also happen to know for a fact that this one is The Maestro’s favorite track!
It seems like they really made a push to explore new themes with Sam’s voice specifically. Because the use of heavy effects such as in “Hereafter”, and the massive screamed harmonies throughout several songs really are a testament to what he can do, as well as what the band can build songs to support in terms of arrangement, which is something anyone can respect and admire. Always unwavering, and steadfast even in the face of literal death, ARCHITECTS come back arguably stronger than ever to make a truly fantastic album from start to finish with Holy Hell. All killer, no filler, and very welcome to my ears.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM