Release Date: 26th February 2021
Record Label: Epitaph
For Fans Of: Bring Me The Horizon, While She Sleeps, Linkin Park
It’s the moment all gatekeeping metalheads fear: another heavy band has gone mainstream. Yes, Architects are the latest in the long list of bands who must be disowned for ‘selling out’, alongside Metallica, Slipknot, Bring Me The Horizon and countless other ‘posers’. How dare they change their sound, without our permission?
Of course this is said in jest, but this isn’t to diminish the significant change in sound found on For Those That Wish To Exist, album number nine from the Brighton metallers. As evident with the selection of singles released in anticipation, the once technical riffing of early albums like Hollow Crown has been replaced with electronics, singalong choruses and guest features, packaged in a radio friendly bundle. Some may turn their noses up at this prospect, but maybe the band can make it work?
Unfortunately, listening to the album reveals that Architects have fallen short of success. The signature sound the band had created – blending rumbling low riffs with post-rock ambience – helped propel them to stardom, with albums Lost Forever // Lost Together and All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us serving as a rebirth of the band; a change in sound that reinvigorated the act and exalted them above their metalcore peers. The loss of chief songwriter Tom Searle of course had an impact on their material, with previous release Holy Hell lacking the innovation of All Our Gods…, but still adding solid tracks to their repertoire. For Those That Wish To Exist, however, seems less a result of a band trying their best and not quite succeeding, but more a conscious effort to appeal to a mainstream audience.
It should be noted that branching out your fanbase, particularly to those less versed in heavy music, shouldn’t automatically be shunned. Using the previously mentioned Metallica as an example, the release of The Black Album launched them from masters of thrash metal to one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. This may be considered ‘selling out’, but The Black Album is chock full of heavy riffs, powerful vocals and memorable guitar solos, proving that the naysayers were only being negative as their favourite band were now on the radio. When listening to For Those That Wish To Exist, there is a notable lack of heavy riffs and powerful vocals. Yes, there are literally riffs present on the album, but none are memorable, impressive or catchy. Sam Carter is still screaming, but the pain in his voice is no longer present. Rather, the riffs and screams appear to be place fillers, included out of obligation to prove that Architects are still a metal band.
This isn’t to say the new album is without its strengths. ‘Discourse Is Dead’ retains the metallic sound Architects are known for, and could easily appear on one of their previous releases, while one could be forgiven for thinking they’re listening to Gojira when the track ‘Goliath’ starts. Lead single ‘Animals’ actually succeeds in the band’s attempt to create accessible metal; a simple but effective powerhouse of a riff bursts out the speakers, coupled with a chorus built for crowd participation. Featuring a blend of Carter’s sombre cleans and gritty shouted vocals, it can’t be denied the man has one of the most versatile voices in metal – when he’s good, he’s good. Annoyingly, these moments of quality are sparse, scattered across an hour long album of formulaic songwriting that barely resembles the legacy of music the band has built. Despite having one of the fiercest screams in metal, Carter opts for the pitched shouts for the majority of the album. Ordinarily, there would be no issue with this, but there is a notable change in tone with his voice, resulting in a snarl almost resembling a non metal fan impersonating harsh vocals. One can’t help but wonder if this is a result of a compromise – not abandoning the screams and risk being accused of selling out, but dialling back the harsh vocals to reach a wider audience?
Ultimately, For Those That Wish To Exist is a disappointing album. Not because Architects have changed their sound, but because they have failed in doing so. The heavy elements they’ve retained aren’t heavy enough, the pop inspired choruses aren’t catchy enough, and the once inspiring and innovative songwriting is now predictable and repetitive. It’s hard to imagine any tracks from this record sitting comfortably alongside the band’s previous hits. Hopefully this record is a misstep rather than a permanent change in direction.
Recommended Tracks: Discourse Is Dead, An Ordinary Extinction, Animals
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