Architects – Holy Hell

Architects Holy Hell Album Artwork

Review | As drummer Dan Searle correctly stated it: Pain is a part of life. While growing from it, we learn our lessons and often, something wonderful comes out of it. In this case, it is ARCHITECTS’s new and 8th studio album Holy Hell. More than two years after their genius work All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us and the aftermath of losing founding member Tom Searle, the band from Brighton UK was reborn with new strength.

Accepting Tom’s inheritance

Opening track Death Is Not Defeat takes up the thread that has been spun in All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us and left with Memento Mori. With its orchestral elements, the track offers a familiar sonic image added by powerful guitar work and lyrics. Continued by Hereafter, the general sound offers a seamless transition from All Our Gods, giving us the characteristic sound that made the band one of the best acts in Britain. The hymnic song combines electronic elements with outstanding guitars, adequately defining the album’s general style.

Overall, hope and despair are fighting for supremacy withing the album.  Expressed through bright and dark moments as in Mortal After All and Holy Hell, high melodies and contrasting riffs constantly question the mortality of mankind. Images of the soul surviving the human body after death are drawn. A spiritual component has been added to the songs, providing a compass to navigate through chaos.

The tracks can be characterized by powerful lyrics supported by great guitar work. With a main riff that could easily be on the next Deftones album, Royal Beggars is a paragon of the band setting course for their future. The characteristic sound becomes acquainted with new elements, both converging as the song takes shape. Lyrically, the verses are carried smoothly until the chorus crashes in, giving us an aggressive but powerful vocal performance. Similar but different, third single Modern Misery has aggressive elements to it without losing its melody throughout the track. The catchy lead guitar carries Sam Carter’s voice while being underpinned by a harrowing bass.

With Damnation, Dying To Heal and The Seventh Circle, listeners get a wide picture of the whole musical spectrum the band has to offer. Last year’s single Doomsday, which was co-written by Tom, provides a familiar soundscape defined by great clean vocals and an engraving chorus. Varying from silent parts to wide tapestries of sound, closing track A Wasted Hymn depicts a ballad that leads the album to its resolution with a shimmer of hope, shining out of the battlefield that hope and despair have left behind.

A band in transition

Thematically, the themes have stepped away from social and environmental topics to make way for the personal. Dealing with the passing of Tom and drawing hope and inspiration out of it has been the blueprint for the album that became Holy Hell. Like death itself, it has more than one metaphorical level. It’s dark and brutal, yet leaves room for the beautiful. Without being a religious album, it surely has a spiritual level shining out from between the songs.

It’s astonishing how ARCHITECTS took their grief, dealt with it and created something that was never there before. However someone likes Holy Hell, it simply cannot be ignored what this band went through. Coming up with an album of that caliber is something that everyone has to respect, no matter what. They made the best out of their situation and created something wonderful. Something that Tom would have been deeply proud of.