LOUDER REVIEWS: 'For Those That Wish to Exist' - Architects
Few acts can reinvent themselves after a catastrophe. In the case of Architects, the loss of guitarist and main songwriter, Tom Searle made many fear that ‘Holy Hell’ – a piece which became an ardent outpouring of emotion in tribute to their friend – would be something of a departing note. An end to a band who created genre-defining pieces in the vein of ‘Daybreaker’ and ‘All Our God’s Have Abandoned Us’. That’s why, on ‘For Those Who Wish to Exist’ they don’t so much reinvent, as they do transcend themselves. The musical textures are immersively melodic, while still capturing that signature passion and fire. Conceptually, the band is now looking outward at a world that’s faced its own disasters and struggles. New Drummer, Dan Searle said of the theming that he wanted them to “tackle the biggest questions facing the future of our planet”. In both those senses, this is a distinctly bold work and one on which the excitements and anxieties of fans rest. Contained within the title and abstract artwork is a willingness to signal change, and embrace existence. It’s a leap that breathes renewed vibrancy into these musicians and the listener, even amidst an immeasurably bleak backdrop.
A swell of orchestrals and reverberating electronic textures open ‘Do You Dream of Armageddon?’ beginning the piece on a tense while elegant introduction. ‘Black Lungs’ should soothe any worries that any of this bands signature command has been surrendered. There’s a wave of cathartic anger to the track, that’s fed by the juggernaut-sized riffs, the surrounding synthesisers, and the excellent progressions with the way the submerging instrumentals guide the contemplative melodies to the violent sections, and vice versa. ‘Giving blood’ enraptures with engaging rhythm sections and the vicious interplay between the careering synths and cascading guitars. These pieces confront the issue of environmental destruction with Carter asking “What would you do to stay alive if the planet was burning?” There’s impassioned imagery of ‘staying alive’ and avoiding falling throughout, meaning that you can ascribe your own meaning, with these openers seeming to beg us to use our passions to fight, irrespective of how deep the well we’re stranded in seems. ‘Discourse is Dead’ exploits guttural textures, and melancholy atmospherics to paint an image of dystopian capture – the way these musicians, after all these years, remain harrowing proves inspirational. Remember though, returning to the theming, all their compositions are tinged with optimism. Through the cinematic strings and relentless harmonies, ‘Dead Butterflies’ proves instantly ambitious and sounds like a significant moment in this band's storied discography.
‘An Ordinary Extinction’ feels discordant and hypnotic yet no less memorable. Far from entangling a cluster of effects to achieve a primitive emotional reaction, everything is textured and layered in a way that allows for exploration of the images each detail paints in your mind, be they ones of disaster or rebellion. The choruses leave an especially arresting impression, each one feeling immense or else affecting. ‘Impermanence’ features Winston McCall of Parkway Drive, and as you might imagine from this collaboration, the piece is fierce in the stampeding presence of the rhythm section. The screams of “do you really wanna live forever?” act as a rallying cry, urging us to consider the kind of world we’re leaving behind and whether we’d want to stay if we could see the consequences our actions reap. On a contrasting note, ‘Flight without Feathers’ proves an ethereal and otherworldly experiment, which is beautiful if haunting. Featuring Mike Kerr of Royal Blood, ‘Little Wonder’ feels like a twisted dance number, the abrupt changes, and multitude of effects and sounds which surface, creating capricious chaos where our frontmen have free reign to proclaim, ‘We all say that we wanna be saved but it’s’ easier to follow’ against the danceable cadences and marching tempos. ‘Animals’ fixates with the stamping presence – the divided, frenzied presentation here takes some adjusting to, yet captivates in time.
One of the most primitive pieces here is ‘Libertine’, except rather than just proving aggressive through its enormous presence in the tracklist, there’s an inspired theatricalism here whereby all the distinctive elements coalesce and grow across the track length, making for a truly impressionistic crescendo in the final moments. ‘Goliath’ features Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro – although that might seem like an odd choice for an album with this sound, his sardonic refrains of “long live the king” and trademark shrieks, carry the anger and defiance at the heart of this track excellently. ’Demi God’ again introduces novel sounds, the writing feeling almost psychedelic in the arrangement – intriguingly, this one is sung from the perspective of a leader who has fallen from power, the potent religious imagery and oriental-tinged violins lending to that sensation of majesty and downfall outstandingly.
It’s fascinating how architects capture these intriguing concepts in so much detail, yet I guess that speaks to their skill as musicians and as artists. Just consider the space-rock-inspired ‘Meteor’ to get a sense of how well this band brings together the oftentimes competing qualities of colour, rage, and beauty. Alternatively, look to the exhilarating closer ‘Dying Is Absolutely Safe’ where all their emotive and heartfelt qualities come pouring out in a sanguine and poignant orchestral piece. It’s a touching note to end the album on, and one which signals how the end of something doesn’t always mean the end of everything – this is a very new sort of record for architects, yet they reformulated and reshaped their world when they needed to, just as we must reinvent ours.
'For Those Who Wish to Exist' is out everywhere on Friday 26th February
Watch the apocalyptic video for 'Meteor' below