Architects

support Stray From The Path + Northlane + More Than Life
author AP date 20/03/14 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

It feels like an age has passed since my last scene concert experience. Yet with the announcement of these British metalcore stalwarts, who have always ranked well in my grade book, there never was any doubt that I was going to be in attendance tonight. As I take my bearings inside, it seems to me that with the release of their latest album "Lost Forever // Lost Together", Architects have only grown more popular, entertaining a crowd which maxes out the downstairs room of the venue and features an assortment of familiar faces from a wide variety of musical backgrounds, and with very different musical preferences. Do Architects really have the power to unite the feuding metal masses?

Photos courtesy of Peter Troest

More Than Life

Before developing proof to said question, however, it is up to the band's countrymen in More Than Life to stir us into a mood - and they do so in impressive fashion. Best described as a post-rock band backing a true blooded hardcore vocalist, these Britons have both message and melody without sacrificing one for the other as is sometimes the case with bands subscribing to a hardcore philosophy. The melodies of guitarists Joel Peets and Joey Bayes are evocative, eye-shutting stuff, their warm yet melancholic harmonies especially gently drilling their way into my soul, and the dim, moody lighting only strengthens this effect. But above all it is from the seething energy and passion of vocalist James Matthews that More Than Life distill their power live, infecting the audience and driving the front three rows or so into a frenzy, with people shouting lyrics into the mic, stage diving and flailing their limbs in a violent moshpit.

This is the sort of intense, up close and personal hardcore show that would probably rate in the 9's if played in some dingy basement venue, and really my only two gripes with it are the relatively uninteresting, monotone vocal style that Matthews employs, and the piss poor clean singing of bassist Andrew Fisher in the second last song "Do You Remember". But with the inspired melodic work and the spirited performance by each of the five members those seem but minor obstacles to a short but sweet show which sets the bar high for the next two supporting acts to come, and indeed the headlining act itself.

8

Northlane

It quickly dawns on me that for Northlane, that bar is far too high. Despite all the hype that people have been attributing to this Australian act, to me there is very little here that has me enthusing, and too much that irks me. Vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes has that annoying tendency to begin virtually all of his lines clean, swell the pitch and end in a scream - in exactly the same fashion as Caleb Shomo on Attack Attack!'s "This Means War" album - and his clean vocals aren't up to scratch either. Only when he lands midway between screams and cleans to produce a muscular, strained voice do I find myself digging his offerings, and elsewhere, I simply roll my eyes in dismay.

It wouldn't even be that horrific if the music itself could compensate, but it strikes me that Northlane couldn't string a song together if they tried. They're much too pre-occupied with popular fads like breakdowns, djent-y chords and electronic samples, and stitching these together without any sense or meaning to develop coherent structures with a red chord running through. There are the occasional nuggets that interest me - a good tremolo part here in "Aspire", some intriguing odd time signatures there in the single "Dream Awake", and of course those aforementioned rawer clean vocals that appear sometimes. But with a performance this timid, and with songs so poorly written, I find myself increasingly hoping for a swift conclusion to these proceedings.

5

Stray From The Path

Things can almost only improve then as Stray From The Path take to the stage - even if their vocalist Drew York is absent tonight due to a family emergency which required his swift return home to the U.S. prior to this show. Bassist Anthony Altamure explains that they'll be performing with members from the other three bands on this tour filling in - and lo and behold, as Sam Carter comes in to handle the roaring on opening duo "Badge and a Bullet" & "Mad Girl", I'm half convinced York couldn't have pulled this off better himself. Carter looks and sounds positively ferocious, adding nuances to SFTP's music that aren't usually there and dashing back and forth whilst flailing his arms like somebody intent on inciting a riot.

I'll be the first to admit that really, this is rap music with electric guitars and distortion; a blast from 1999, with all manner of turntable effects on Thomas Williams' guitar playing and an overall aesthetic that suggests the likes of Limp Bizkit (and perhaps Emmure?) have played a part in shaping this band's music and being. But it's a lot of fun, and with James Matthews, Adrian Fitipaldes et. al retouching this stuff, the whole thing has the quality of 'celebrities' jamming together. The clear highlight, however, is Altamure handing his instrument to Architects' Alex Dean, and proceeding to deliver an absolutely mental vocal (and physical) performance for "Radio" - and in the heat of things, even the strange rapping part Williams throws in sounds golden.

7

Architects

Expectedly, Architects receive a heroes' welcome from an audience eager to test the live worthiness of the new songs they would doubtless have included in the set. And much to my welcome - once we've been well and truly bashed into submission by the explosive "Gravedigger" - the riffage taking place in songs like "C.A.N.C.E.R." is lifted to another level in the live setting, their true size revealed. The "Pansonic Youth"-esque bridge in that song in particular sends me in all sorts of heavens. Carter is bristling with energy, carrying himself with confidence, charisma and spirit, and his compatriots on stage - guitarists Tom Searle and Morgan Sinclair, bassist Alex Dean and drummer Dan Searle - are equally fuming with intent.

If you're a fan of Architects, then the Brighton born band leave little to be desired, ploughing their way through songs like "Alpha Omega" and "Even If You Win, You're Still a Rat" with unstoppable force, and with an infectious drive that has virtually everyone in the venue off their feet jumping or moshing in ecstasy. For me personally, things eventually wind down to too much repetition, with older songs like "Follow the Water" beginning to lose their impact for me after years of persistence on the group's touring setlist. But even so there is no denying the storm these boys can whip up, and the sheer magnitude of the pit during the 'classic' "Early Grave" is enough to convince me that Architects are swiftly becoming one of the most reliable live bands on the planet, always ready to give it their all and give their fans an evening to talk about for weeks. As "These Colours Don't Run" concludes the set at 13 songs long, I, too, leave Pumpehuset satisfied - though evidently not as blown back as some of the more diehard fans of the band.

8

Setlist:

  • Gravedigger
  • C.A.N.C.E.R.
  • Alpha Omega
  • Even If You Win, You're Still a Rat
  • Day in Day out
  • Naysayer
  • The Devil is Near
  • Follow the Water
  • Black Blood
  • Devil's Island
  • Early Grave
  • Broken Cross
  • These Colours Don't Run

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