The Architects have been around for a while now, but it is only recently that their profile seems to have exploded with pictures of them staring out of a wide variety of magazines and websites and their new, fourth album hugely anticipated. With its release looming, we decided to find out what all the fuss is about and if ‘the here and now’ justifies the superlatives that have been flung at it indiscriminately like paint at some Jackson Pollock piece.
The question is answered quickly as ‘day in day out’ slams out of the speakers with a furious energy that suggests the boys have been at the Rockstar energy drinks rather too often. The furious riffing that greets you, offset by screaming harmonics and crashing drums sees the band veer into hardcore territory but with a laser-guided precision that is born of too many hours sat listening to illicit heavy metal albums. Sam Carter’s vocals have moved on light years since the band’s 2009 debut, with his every scream channelling raw fury and aggression and his melodic passages handled with style and skill. Meanwhile the rest of the band step up to deliver a dazzling display of pure hardcore fury with a panache that should make the average ‘metalcore’ fan head straight outside to burn their collection of Killswitch Engage CDs. ‘Learn to live’ is another belting track, although for my tastes the melodic hand is overplayed in the early sections of the album at the risk of becoming formulaic. Happily the band are far more than just one trick ponies and a crushing ‘delete, rewind’ removes any doubt from my mind that the Architects may play it safe as the band slam out a vicious slab of pure rock that will undoubtedly set the pit ablaze when the band play it live. ’BTN’, rather implausibly ups the levels of energy and you can see that the band truly have become reinvigorated and have fallen in love with a career choice that seemed to have run them into the ground over the course of their second and third discs. While the band may rage and spit, the predominant feeling is not one of downbeat despondency but of the joy the band clearly feel when they are jamming out huge slabs of punk-infused metal and that enthusiasm carries clearly over to the listener making ‘the here and now’ a very, very enjoyable record indeed.
Having successfully burned a hole through your speakers, ‘an open letter to myself’ provides a respite from the thrashing and burning that surrounds it. It is the sort of track you can imagine crossing over to gather a huge audience and it will undoubtedly prove a popular festival track with its slow pace, echoing vocals and hook-laden guitar part. Of course you can’t keep a band like Architects down for long and ‘the blues’ is clearly some interpretation of the genre that is a far cry from Muddy Waters and his ilk as it storms out of the stereo like the first track given an amphetamine boost. ‘Red eyes’ is rather a more traditional track and while it boasts a solid enough hook, it is one of the more disappointing tracks here as it lacks the punch of the other crushing gems on display although the spiralling bridge is really cool. ‘Stay young forever’, however, is a riot, opening out of a storm of feedback and proceeding to flay the flesh from your bones with a succession of multi-layered screams and whip-crack guitars. ‘Heartburn’ proves to be another heart-felt ballad which serves to emphasise the brutality of the tracks that surround it even while it is, perhaps, less successful than ‘an open letter to myself’. ‘Year in, year out/up and away’ is a crushing album highlight with distinctive guest vocals from Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan that augment the track nicely without overpowering Sam who holds his own very well indeed. It proves to be a solid end to an inspiring album.
Overall ‘The here and now’ proves to be an immediate and engaging album and while the metalcore format is rapidly proving to be somewhat limited, the Architects are bursting out of the scene with song-writing of great depth played with skill and precision by a veteran band who have honed their abilities on the road. While those who prefer the darker, blacker side of metal will undoubtedly find this far too melodic for their tastes the passion which the band have for their craft is unmistakable and genuinely likeable and this is one of the best examples of its kind currently out there.