Architects

The Here And Now

Written by: AP on 30/01/2011 22:18:10

Like it or not, Architects have always felt the pressure of Bring Me The Horizon's success. When Sam Carter's good friend Oli Sykes was roaring at audiences numbering in the thousands, Architects were struggling to sell out even small club venues, and any airtime on the radio was certainly out of the question. Meanwhile, Bring Me The Horizon were frequent posterboys for worldwide press, had their hit singles shuffled on mainstream stations and - despite the controversy surrounding the band - seemed only to be getting bigger with every passing day. The music was extreme, yes, but in a way that allowed the maximum number of people from all corners of the scene to find something in it to cherish; while Architects were too uncompromising and experimental to appeal to a wide audience.

Fast forward to 2011, the third week of January, and the eve of release of the Architects' newest album, "The Here and Now". Designed with compositional awareness, integrity forgotten, it is destined to propel the band into the mainstream once and for all. Fans earned by way of the punishing immediacy showcased on "Hollow Crown" should expect to look elsewhere for a fix of technical metalcore, because the least brutal way to describe the new, arena hugging sound is that it has been deliberately dumbed down in order to conform to the three minutes afforded per song on the radio, with clearly defined verses and choruses structured in traditional pop music fashion.

There's no denying that "The Here and Now" begins with a bang, "Day in Day out" and "Learn to Live" rocketing off with discordant guitar, fierce screaming, and soaring, hook-laden clean and gang vocals aplenty. But the problem arises with the realization that none of it actually sounds like Architects. True the band has spent enough time writing and releasing music to have carved out their own niche, so recognising a song like "Delete, Rewind" as having the distinct mark of Architects is no chore, but in the process of capitalizing on their potential, the band has shed the flagrant aggression that truly defined their sound and established them as a band to not only behold, but also fear.

None of that ill-boding capriciousness has found its way on "The Here and Now", which sounds more like insipid post-hardcore than punishing tech metal - in fact, the closest point of reference for stuff like "BTN" might be the new song by Funeral For A Friend, "Front Row Seats to the End of the World". It should come as no surprise, then, that this total change of direction includes two ballads, "An Open Letter to Myself" and "Heartburn", neither of which flatters Sam Carter's voice (he can sing, sure, but to call his clean vocal endeavours a triumph would be a gross overstatement). Skipping the two, however, the accessibility that reigns over "The Here and Now" provides lots of sticky memorabilia making it, in contrast with previous efforts, easier to appreciate at face value.

Bafflingly, the most ferocious (and interesting) moments of the album are delivered in its final third in "Stay Young Forever" and "Year in Year out / Up and Away" (minus the five-minute outro), courtesy of cameos by Andrew Neufeld of Comeback Kid and Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan, respectively. Both songs admittedly continue in the vein of the lofty ambience poisoning the album, but the formidable presence of these esteemed guests, particularly on the former track, lifts them above the inadvertent apathy that plagues me listening to "The Here and Now".

On the whole, if placed in the right context, "The Here and Now" is not a bad album, but the lack of candor it reflects is too disturbing to ignore. Everyone loves a bit of light and shade on an album, but when the shade is brilliant and the light if shocking, it verges on the pointless. Whether it really was the Architects themselves that made these decisions is of course not for certain, as it all smells a bit like financial crisis plus major label persistence and peer pressure. But wherever the blame may lie is largely irrelevant, as the band will now have to work twice as hard to regain the respect of their former fanbase no matter what. Fat chance though, I'd say, as with "The Here and Now", Architects will almost certainly bask beneath a horn of plenty and get used to playing big venues, and voluntarily leaving that behind will be difficult. Better get used to Architects without the agony and violence.

7

Download: Day in Day out; Delete, Rewind; BTN; Stay Young Forever
For the fans of: Bring Me The Horizon, Dead And Divine, Farewell To Freeway, Young Guns
Listen: Myspace

Release date 24.01.2011
Century Media

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