LIVE: Architects / Beartooth / Polaris @ Wembley Arena, London

By Dave Stewart

When one of the country’s most beloved heavy bands announces a show at a venue like Wembley Arena, there’s only one way to react. You tell all your friends to buy tickets and you all travel from wherever in the country you are to witness this special event, almost like a metalcore pilgrimage – and that’s exactly what happened when Architects dropped their biggest show to date. The much loved Brighton quintet performed at Alexandra Palace at the beginning of 2018, but had clearly decided that it wasn’t quite big enough to satisfy their stomachs. Ever hungry for total domination, they set their sights on Wembley, bringing along two stellar support acts in the form of the Beartooth and Polaris. This was always going to be one holy hell of an evening.

Due to a very efficient queuing system at the arena the room was already crammed full of people for Polaris, and they effortlessly set the bar for the evening. The Aussie metalcore mob worked the crowd up into a frenzy, with opening number ‘The Remedy’ birthing pits across the room. The punishment continued with monstrous performances of ‘Casualty’ and ‘Consume’, before finishing on their mosh anthem ‘Lucid’. Technically flawless, energetic and mesmerising. A perfect opening set by a spectacular band.

Next to take the stage was Beartooth, and you could almost feel the anticipation in the room. As soon as the lights dimmed on the stage the crowd roared and burst into action, greeting the band with a whirlwind of energy as they tore through ‘Bad Listener’. They crammed their set full of their biggest and best, expertly blasting through golden oldies like ‘The Lines’ and ‘Bodybag’ as well as more recent tracks like ‘Manipulation’ and ‘You Never Know’. The crowd lapped up every single drop, giving back every single watt of electricity that Caleb Shomo and crew were throwing their way. The chants during set favourite ‘In Between’ were deafening, as were the chants during set closer ‘Disease’. A well-loved band enjoying the big stage with their well loved audience – a perfect tone setter for what was coming next. The main event. Architects.

The atmosphere in the room was intense before Architects took the stage. Some groups of people were making bets on what they’d open with, others reminiscing about seeing them perform to ten people in the back room of a pub. The room was full of conversation, but as soon as they took the stage that chatter turned into cheer. The synthesizers and orchestral sounds slowly swelled into ‘Death Is Not Defeat’, and as soon as the full band burst into song one thing became very clear – Architects meant business. Their entire career had been building towards this moment and they were going to put their everything into blowing away anyone that was watching.

They didn’t hold anything back, throwing punch after punch right from the off. These punches came from all different angles too, and featured tracks that spanned over four records of their career. The intro riff of ‘Modern Misery’ shook the ribcages of everyone in attendance, knocking wind out of onlookers with each note. The ferocity of ‘Nihilist’ turned up the temperature in the room, as did the pyrotechnics that shot out of the front of the stage. Every single track, from ‘A Match Made In Heaven’ to ‘ Broken Cross’, was met with nothing but love and adoration, causing the energy in the room to be inextinguishable. Even the slower parts of the set were gigantic, hitting with just as much wallop as the heavier songs. The crowd participation in ‘Royal Beggars’ was almost louder than the band itself, and the same could be said for the moving epic ‘A Wasted Hymn’.

After a brief exit from the stage, the band returned for a couple more songs and a little speech from front man Sam Carter. He spoke of his love and appreciation for the crowd, for his band mates and, most importantly, for Tom Searle. The whole night had been for him. Even in his absence he is the driving force behind the band, igniting a fire in his brother and drummer Dan Searle to push forwards and continue to create. What an amazing feeling it must’ve been to play his songs in a room that big. They closed out the night with what are arguably their two biggest songs, the enormous ‘Gone With The Wind’ and the anthemic ‘Doomsday’ – a song Tom wrote about his cancer, and a song Dan wrote about his brothers death. A fitting, poignant and powerful end to a monumental night in Architects career.

There are very few bands in the genre that are able to do what Architects did at Wembley. They took their punishing brand of metal and filled an arena with it, without any of the venom or energy being lost. It filled every inch of the space with ease, leaving the crowd stunned as they watched on in complete awe. Architects are in a complete league of their own, setting a benchmark for every other band in the genre; absolute masters of their craft and icons for this generation of metal. A beautiful, sweaty and stunning evening.