It’s fair to say that the previous decade was one of highs and lows for the members of Architects; you undoubtedly know their story of redemption, tragedy and triumph by now. The culmination of that wild period, and three exceptional, varied and beloved albums on the trot, finds Architects’ position as genuine modern metal superstars cemented.
One of the biggest challenges they face with their ninth album, For Those That Wish To Exist, is the fact that the sound Architects established on their last album, 2018’s more melancholic and melodious Holy Hell, has seen endless metalcore chancers appropriate its style on an almost weekly basis. As scene leaders they’ll need to move ahead of the pack again – something that, to their credit, they have managed at least twice in their career before.
On initial listen to For Those That Wish To Exist, a third time might be something of a big ask. This is essentially a continuation of the stylistic approach of Holy Hell: a cleaner, vaster, stadium-sized version of what the band used to be. When you consider the fact that Architects are now an established arena-sized band, this makes perfect sense, and a song like the gorgeous Dead Butterflies is ideally suited to massive venues with its orchestral swell and epic grandeur.
Riff-loving purists might sneer, but when you have a weapon like Sam Carter’s voice in your arsenal then you’d be insane not to utilise it to the fullest, and Architects do so throughout the record, be it on Flight Without Feathers’ whispered opening, or trading ear-piercing screams with Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall on Impermanence. Despite the fact that there are certainly heavy moments here – An Ordinary Extinction, for example, has a classic Architects riff underpinning it – many of the most startling parts of the record are the softer elements. Demi God, for example, has a Nine Inch Nails-esque midsection before brilliantly morphing into sounding like 90s post-grunge heavyweights Silverchair’s sublime anthem, Emotion Sickness.
In fact, most of the evidence here shows that Architects 2021 are more suited to mining more dulcet areas than they are trying to recreate past heaviness. Although, that isn’t to say they can’t do that as well; the record’s highlight comes when a massive tech-metal groove ushers in Goliath as Sam gives us a clenched-tooth, guttural roar before transitioning into a skyscraper chorus. It’s a banger even before Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil comes screeching into view, but once he does, 2021 has a strong contender for song of the year already.
There are parts of this album that do feel very familiar to already existing parts of Architects’ oeuvre – not enough to breed contempt but familiar all the same. But, although fans of rawer and heavier music might not like to hear it, when the band plunge themselves neck-deep into lighter terrain, they point towards a very exciting future. They’re too good a band for us to keep to ourselves forever, and with For Those That Wish To Exist, a lot more people are going to discover just how great Architects are.