Architects’ The Classic Symptoms Of A Broken Spirit: former metalcore heroes shoot for arena rock success

Album review: metalcore breakdowns are out, big hooks and bigger ambition are in on Architects’ The Classic Symptoms Of A Broken Spirit

Architects: The Classic Symptoms Of A Broken Spirit album review
(Image: © Epitaph)

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Next year will be the 10-year anniversary of Bring Me The Horizon’s Sempiternal. It says much about the quality of that album and the shadow it casts that, even a decade after its release, it’s still often the go-to record for bands desperate to break out of the metalcore ghetto. Brighton’s Architects, though, were never one of those bands happy to ride along on the coattails of the leaders. They have a wonderfully diverse back catalogue of modern metal, and they’re a rare example of a band capable of crafting something distinct and instantly recognisable. But even they aren’t immune from Sempiternal’s gravitational pull.

The qualities that make Architects stand out haven’t gone away here on their 10th studio album. The Classic Symptoms Of A Broken Spirit is still full of those thick, crunching, stomping guitar riffs; some hugely propulsive, techy grooves; and Sam Carter remains one of the most dexterous and singular voices in metal. But, the evolution and the size of Architects – this coming off the back of 2021’s For Those That Wish To Exist topping the UK album charts – has led the band to a place where they clearly want to capitalise with a big, instant, booming, pop-hook-filled modern metallic rock album.

There’s nothing wrong with Architects aiming high, but it does change the parameters of how this record should be judged. Thoughts of a forward-thinking, daring, experimental and challenging metal record should be moved to one side and replaced with one question: are these songs bangers? And, for the most part, yes they are.

Architects are now entering into an entirely different realm, fighting for attention alongside massive arena guitar heavyweights such as Foals or The 1975, and so, to compete, they’re going to need the kind of choruses that have turned those bands into festival headliners. The likes of Tear Gas (even though it massively borrows the hook from Nine Inch Nails’ Closer and the riff from Rammstein’s Sonne), Doomscrolling and Spit The Bone all sound just as colossal and made for mainstream radio and festival fields as Sempiternal songs like Shadow Moses and Can You Feel My Heart did a decade back.

Sempiternal, however, is such a clear elder brother of this record that it’s hard not to labour the point. The one clear stylistic standout is A New Moral Low Ground, which dips slightly into jazz chords and an 80s synth throb. It’s more Glass Animals than metalcore, but it’s a hell of an earworm all the same. Purists will undoubtedly stamp their feet, and a lack of breakdowns and ‘Bleugh!’s are sure to fire online ire until the next big band from this scene try to make their escape, but the likely detractors would be missing the point.

This is not the most unique, original Architects album, and it’s definitely not going to be considered their most ‘worthy’, but for all the credibility that some may feel the band have sacrificed, they’ve done something arguably even harder: they’ve shown they can write some absolutely shit-hot floor-fillers. Good for them.

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.