Nobody ever expected UK Metalcore giants Architects to release another album. Once Tom Searle, the acclaimed heartbeat of the band, passed away in 2016 it was hard to imagine them carrying on. No one would have been surprised to see them call it quits. The build-up to the release of Holy Hell was one drenched with excitement and anticipation, with people calling it their album of the year before it had even dropped. We all knew that ‘Doomsday’, released late 2017, used a riff written by Tom before his death, and that his musical ideas would feature heavily throughout the sonics of the release, but nobody could truly comprehend what was coming. As a long-term fan of the band, I knew I had faith in their abilities, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. How very stupid of me.
I feel the need to make it known that I truly love this band, so my words may well be tainted with some sort of bias. But oh my word, Holy Hell is an astounding release. Drummer Dan Searle has stepped up to the mark left by his brother and taken the reins on the creative direction of the record, penning the lyrics which detail the grief they experienced in the wake of their rapture and how they are pushing through to grow from their experiences, as well as humanity’s place in the world today. Working alongside the creative mastermind that is new guitarist Josh Middleton, leader of the band Sylosis, the group have built the record we had all hoped for. Nobody expected them to try and top All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us. It simply couldn’t be done. But they have made the record they needed to make, and have done so fantastically.
Over the last seven records, vocalist Sam Carter has been developing his voice to the point where now one can say with absolute confidence, “this man is one of the best vocalists in the world.” He has always astounded me with his ability, but this record may be Carter at his best. His grasp of melody is mindboggling, delivering some of the best-sung passages of his career on ‘Royal Beggars’, whilst also delivering some of the most refined screams he’s ever concocted at the same time. He is a master of his craft, and the final movements of ‘Modern Misery’ or ‘Hereafter’ only further cement this as fact. He acts as the perfect vessel for Searle’s words, and the pure emotion that he manages to articulate with his delivery is at times a genuinely fatiguing experience. I simply cannot praise him enough.
Adding to this, the musicianship across the board of this record is absolutely astonishing. Josh has taken to his role incredibly well, filling the gargantuan shoes left by Tom with seemingly no difficulty whatsoever. The riffs on this album are undeniable; the highlight of which for me falls upon the previously mentioned ‘Doomsday’. Cathartic and desperate, yet full of hope, and second only to All Our Gods closer ‘Memento Mori’ as one of the best songs the band have written. “I have to rebuild now it’s over. Maybe now I’ve lost, I can live.” The band have also managed to expand on the electronic elements and orchestral sections brought to the table on the previous release to wonderful effect, making great use of the two to add a whole new level of atmosphere to the release and further enhance the emotion already being pumped into the soundscape throughout the course of the record.
Once again, Architects have delivered a world-class album. With everything stacked against them in the years that lead up to the release, no one could have expected this. They haven’t bested their masterpiece, but they haven’t tried to either, and that alone is to be respected. They have defied the odds and come back from the lowest points of their lives with an incredible body of work, proving once and for all that Architects are here to stay. With all of the pressure that would have been on their shoulders, I am amazed at just how well they have done. They have honoured their fallen brother with tremendous results. How many end of year lists it will top is yet to be seen, but one thing is for certain: Architects are true masters of their craft, and Tom would be proud. For Tom, Forever.