Architects – ‘Holy Hell’

By Dave Stewart

Architects are a very unique band in todays metal community. Their back catalogue is one of the strongest in modern metal, their live show is held in high regard amongst gig goers and fellow musicians alike. But what really makes them special is their fan base–you’d be hard pressed to find another band in British metalcore that has a following as loyal as the Brighton heavyweights.

Ever since the band announced the tragic death of founding member Tom Searle in August 2016, fans have rallied together in support of the band. They’ve acted like an extended support network, expressing love and appreciation for their strength and courage to march on in his memory.

When asked about new material, drummer and Tom’s brother Dan Searle said “We want to carry on, that is important to say and we will strive to do so, but we will not release any music unless we truly believe that it is something that Tom would have been proud of.” Consequently, as soon as the band announced the release of ‘Holy Hell’, anticipation sky-rocketed, and that anticipation has remained high with every bit of music they have released. The first full length offering in over two years. The first without Tom. Well, sort of.

Everything that you already love about Architects is present here, as big and beautiful as you’d expect it to be. There are gigantic riffs in ‘Mortal After All’ and title track ‘Holy Hell’. They’re heavy enough to make even the most seasoned metalhead crumble under their weight. ‘Damnation’ and ‘Death Is Not Defeat’ boast choruses that soar higher than ever before, and singles ‘Modern Misery’ and ‘Herafter’ flaunt their signature balance of light and dark, both punishing and beautiful in equal measure. There is plenty of the band we already know here, but there’s also nice surprises like breakneck rager ‘The Seventh Circle’, and the melodically charged single ‘Royal Beggars’.

The diamond of the record, though, is in the form of ‘A Wasted Hymn’. The instrumentation is beautiful, and the way the music progresses is smooth and masterful. But it’s the message that makes it stand out– life can present you with hardships and dark spells, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. All is not lost. It’s a poignant and touching way to close the record.

Tom may not appear physically on the record, but he is musically and emotionally present for its entirety. Be it a riff, a bit of ambient noise or simply an idea, he is there. A mere two years since his passing, to even consider releasing a record is commendable. The fact that the record is so intricate and powerful is a credit to the band, both musically and mentally. To make something so impressive out of a situation so dire is beyond admirable.

‘Holy Hell’ is a beacon of hope, a representation of life after death. It carries the message that positive things can be found in the most negative of places if you look hard enough. In todays society, that message is more important than ever. A formidable, moving mammoth of a record. Tom would be proud.

DAVE STEWART

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