Architects

The Here and Now

01. Day In Day Out
02. Learn To Live
03. Delete, Rewind
04. BTN
05. An Open Letter To Myself
06. The Blues
07. Red Eyes
08. Stay Young Forever
09. Heartburn
10. Year In Year Out/Up and Away

[01/25/11]
[Century Media]

As the years have passed since the release of their first album Nightmares in 2006, Architects have only become stronger, and are now one of the best-known young British metal acts, both here and across the globe. 2009’s Hollow Crown showed an incredible level of maturity compared to their previous work; songs like ‘Early Grave‘ and ‘Follow the Water‘ became instant classics amongst their fans.

It was always going to be hard to top it – that much is undeniable – and as promo tracks became available towards the end of last year, and word spread that the boys were to drop the more technical elements of their sound, unfortunately we weren’t terribly optimistic.

Despite this information, perhaps it wouldn’t be fair to judge The Here and Now entirely on what has come before. Vocalist Sam Carter clearly stated in an interview with Thrash hits that technical music is “just not what we want to write anymore”. A big disappointment for some I’m sure, but does that make it a bad album?

Ah-ha! Not so fast. First we need to talk about how it’s different. Hell, I need to talk it through with myself to solidify my thoughts, because quite frankly I’m torn.

First and foremost: the previews and interviews don’t lie; it’s a lot less technical. A lot less. Clearly, guitarists Tim Hillier-Brook and Tom Searle can’t have completely forgotten how to play their instruments, to we’ll have to take their word for it: this was intentional. Not to imply that the main guitar lines are sloppy in any way, but there’s a lot of chords and not a lot of tapping.

Whilst not necessarily different, Carter’s clean vocals are now more heavily weighted than before. Personal taste will define your reaction to this, but I don’t take it as a bad thing: I thought such sections, when experimented with on Hollow Crown, elevated the songs to something else and polished a shine onto some already fantastically constructed tunes. That being said, there is a limit to the effectiveness of an epic fist-pumping chorus every other song…

The issue of the production quality of the vocals has been raised by some, in that they’re “clipped to fuck”. I’m somewhat disinclined to agree; Architects are part-hardcore band, so a certain amount of distortion on the vocals is to be expected, even encouraged. I do take issue with the lyrics at times – Shakespeare they ain’t – but I’m not going to begrudge Carter on this now; they’ve always been a little choppy in places. What I will say is that the bass is, at times, nowhere to be heard. You expect a certain amount of low-end, and particularly in opener ‘Day In Day Out‘ its absence is immediately noticeable.

But I’m getting distracted – back to the here and now (sorry). Ultimately, the main gripe people will have is with progression (or lack thereof) – and I have to agree. Whilst I applaud Architects for writing the album that they wanted to write, producing a standard metalcore album, albeit an well-polished one, is a marked step back from the bone-crunching ferocity of their past efforts, and my conscience won’t allow me to condone that. Sorry guys.

Architects – The Here and Now gets…

3/5

– CG

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