Shibbster Tweets About: Architects’ „HOLY HELL“
Shibbster Tweets About: Architects’ „HOLY HELL“
Here we go again! UK metal-heroes Architects released their 8th album HOLY HELL last Friday and it is the first album they put out after the passing of main songwriter and guitarist Tom Searle. Of course, this is album is special in this context and expectations where quite high from everywhere. I as well took the time and listened through it.
So without further beating around the bush, let’s dive right into this album.
1. Death Is Not Defeat
Starting off with a strong string section with electronic beats, this opener proves from the very first second that Architect’s haven’t lost it. It really sounds as if they are back - stronger than before. As soon as the band kicks in, we have a strong Architects hook: A bouncing, heavy groove, epic guitars, and earth-shattering deep bass and the iconic vocals of Sam Carter that we all love so much. It feels as if one is thrown into the middle of a running story. Without any long introductions this song evolves into a story itself and be prepared for the first breakdown to hit you way harder and earlier than expected. I love the progression from epic melodies into ruthless brutality and how well it is executed. As the strong strings and the electronic beats come back in, you kinda feel where you are now, but what’s really interesting to me is that you exactly get the emotions within this song, but as stated above, it doesn’t really introduce you to any of this, so that you are more or less left with an emotional picture.
Find my thoughts on Hereafter here!
3. Mortal After All
I really like how Architects made incorporating electronic instruments a standard for their way of writing music. Always subtle, but somehow present. Even though synths are hidden behind the heaviness of the riffs, they play an important role of supporting the clean vocals. This song really is a melodic banger. Without any great explorations towards dissonance it hit’s super heavy, constantly balancing the very well executed vocals. It conveys drama and pain without sounding generic. Even the breakdown at around 2:20 is just a perfect match for the song. Just like the acceptance of the fact that we are all mortal after all, this song doesn’t accept denial - it just rolls over you and catches you within it’s drama.
4. Holy Hell
Holy Hell. The title track. This song really sounds like something bigger than a regular metal core song. The harmonic structure and how rhythmic patterns are built up really remind me of film-scoring. And I must say, I absolutely love it as it doesn’t sound like the popular symphonic metal. - which is a totally valid genre, but usually I absolutely dislike it. Not in this case though, as even the guitars in their arrangement fulfill different roles throughout the song. Even the progression into the breakdown at 2:20 is not a pre-breakdown segment you find often. „Holy hell, I’ve got nothing left to lose“… this song is packed with emotion and drama. With the triplet rhythm towards the end it finally reaches the point of being an EPOS. One might definitely argue that in terms of drama, this track is going too far - but given the background of the entire album, I find this not only justifiable and enjoyable, it really gives me goosebumps. This is one holy hell of a song.
So far, they’ve mastered it in every track of this album. Within seconds, Architects build up soundscapes around you that really make you live the music. Production, arrangement and performance work so well together. It’s like watching a high end blockbuster that is balancing the right amount of everything: Story, Directing, Acting, Special FX - everything within its reasonable amount. And although this song is hitting you super hard, it is so easy to get lost inside it - just listening to it and feeling it. Over the years, Architects have developed into a more „straight“ style of writing music but Damnation really shows how hard music can sound even without too many dissonances and without performing in odd time-signatures. Actually, I think this song would not have worked that well with more technical details. It is just in front of you. A massive storm that just sucks you in.
6. Royal Beggars
Even though Royal Beggars was released before, just like Hereafter and Doomsday, it perfectly fits into the arc of suspense in this album. Royal Beggars is probably the most „catchy“ song on this album. With its dead simple grooving main riff and the beautiful calm verses, it already has everything in order to get stuck in your head - but on top of that there is this epic chorus. Fascinating again, that Architects manage to make almost everything epic without sounding the same. I am now at a point where I would say that you cannot view HOLY HELL as a regular album. This is more like a first-class theater performance. It requires your full attention but it rewards you with so much emotion and energy. This song almost made me cry, when I first heard it. Not only is it beautifully written, it somehow sounds like some sort of goodbye to Tom whilst keeping his „voice“ alive inside the music. Dramatic but oh, so fitting. But you won’t get lost anywhere as the outro is pulling back into reality again in the most brutal way possible.
7. Modern Misery
…and the brutality continues without any great pauses: Modern Misery boasts probably the heaviest riffs on this album: From that massive intro riff, over the jumping verse-grooves that might make feel you a little light-headed. You get chances to breathe during spherical choruses though. But when I compare this song e.g. with Nihilist (opener of All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us) which was said to be the darkest song Architects have been writing to that date, Modern Misery outdoes that. Not constantly due to the spherical choruses, but they spark in in a way that makes the heavy parts sound even darker. This is also the song to give big shoutouts to Middlefarm Studios and Adam Nolly Getgood: the production is so powerful, yet smooth and transparent. In Modern Misery it pays off to pay close attention to the bass and low-end in general as it is really earth-shattering. Boom.
8. Dying To Heal
Dying To Heal is an interesting song as it feels like a connection from their Album Hollow Crown to their 6th record Lost Forever // Lost Together, where Architects first sounded really out of anyone’s league sovereign. It has this super professional touch combined with the raw and playful energy I’ve heard throughout Hollow Crown. Also the fact that synthesizers are not present throughout the entire song is a very nice variety. Again: in terms of arc of suspense, this song came at the totally right position as it has some refreshing elements. The fact, that it does sound a little like old Architects material really gets me curious - and the outro breakdown with this way too spooky strings in the background is definitely one of the most remarkable moments of this album: Probably the most dissonant seconds of the entire record yet still sounding amazing. I can’t really wrap my head around how Architects write their music…
9. The Seventh Circle
Wow. Dying To Heal already showed a few older/wilder elements, but The Seventh Circle? HOLY HELL! This really sounds like older, angry Architects days paired with their skills as of today. There is not really happening much in this song - it is more or less nonstop pure, raw, wild energy. It sounds scary, intimidating and brutal but also empowering at the same time. It also showcases in a great way that Sam’s voice has not only developed in terms of singing, this is also a new level of screaming you are enjoying in this song. (I’d totally understand if one needs a minute of silence after this song.)
This song catches me every time. Doomsday was the first song to be released after the passing of Tom Searle - a song that he started to write but was never able to finish. Something that you can really hear. All the tiny lead guitar parts throughout the song sound exactly as if Tom had played them. Also, it has the same straight forward power to it, that Architects mastered on Albums 6 and 7. I get goosebumps every time. I can’t really describe how this song makes me feel - but it definitely makes me go somewhere else in my head. And it keeps me safe, as it sounds dramatic, yes - without questioning, but on the other hand the harmonic structure allows a lot of hope to flow into this piece of music. This makes it easier - at least for me - to fall into the drama of this song as well. Easier is also a keyword another level here: This is probably the most „mainstream“ song on the album - so a great „first listener“ for those of you who are not familiar with Architects…
11. A Wasted Hymn
Final track of the album already? That didn’t quite feel like it? Wow… Anyhow, let’s go: Let’s be honest, we all kinda expected the last track of the album to be a little different and more symphonic than the rest of the album right? Remember what I said about damnation and throughout the tracks about this album being a theater performance? A Wasted Hymn sounds like a theater piece in itself. I don’t know where to begin with describing what is happening here, as it instantly pulls me in into the unknown. There are so many beautiful things happening in this 4 1/2 minutes that you can’t hold onto every detail in the first listen. This is a track that I expect many people to go back to many many times. At least, I will as I want to understand more of this beautiful construct. A Wasted Hymn is a very spectacular closing track for this record, especially with the very deep bass floating throughout the end section. It feels epic and right and leaves you in subsequent silence, trying to process what you just experienced.
The overall impression of HOLY HELL:
Holy Hell. I’ve heard to very cool albums recently - Odeville’s ROM and Napoleon’s Epiphany were really high class, but Holy Hell got me on a totally different level. Let’s be honest, of course I am kind of biased here but anyways…
This album is not a regular full-length record to my ears. Bearing the background story of it in mind whilst listening to it, turns this record into an opportunity to have a tiny inside into the hearts of Architects’ members and presents the chaos of their feelings in a way that is more exciting than any blockbuster movie to me. Like I said, it feels like watching a top-notch theater performance. I am so happy, that Architects were keen on writing new music after Tom passed. And I expected it to be good, but I am surprised how good this music is now. Even with picking up older sounding elements makes all this sound so much bigger. Architects themselves said, this album is for Tom. And given how it turned out, I am not only sure, he heard it - I am sure he is proud.
You NEED to listen to this.