Architects - Holy Hell
Review by Shannon Shumaker
Architects’ new album, Holy Hell is monumental. In the face of immense pain and grief following the loss of Tom Searle, the band’s founding guitarist, principal songwriter and twin brother to drummer Dan, Architects have risen from the ashes to deliver a beautifully written and very cathartic release - something that both they and their fans need right now. Recorded over the course of six months the spanned from last Fall to this Spring, Holy Hell finds the band coping with loss, finding meaning in life and picking up the pieces.
Right off the bat, Architects come out swinging, too. “Death is not Defeat,” the album’s opening track, is inspirational, driving and determined. The song would have been absolutely massive on its own, but the string section adds another layer of sound and emotion that really drives it home. Coupled with some of Sam Carter’s best vocal work to date, “Death is not Defeat” shows a lot of promise for Holy Hell, and the songs that follow certainly don’t disappoint. Unrelenting and devastating, each track on the album finds the band pushing their songwriting more than ever before. By the time the next track, “Hereafter” (which is about picking up the pieces and trudging forward) comes to an end, you’re going to feel exhausted, and that’s after only two songs.
It’s honestly impossible to pick out just a few songs that stand out on Holy Hell, because each track has meaning and purpose coupled with spectacular songwriting. “Mortal After All,” for instance, finds the band coming to terms with their own mortality alongside explosive guitar work. The stunning title track, “Holy Hell,” perfectly blends a string section alongside powerful guitar work and emotional vocals, and leads easily into the massive “Damnation.” These two songs, among the rest of the album, feel earth-shattering, game changing and larger than life.
Most of all, Holy Hell feels like a push and pull between light and dark, pain and healing. Songs like “Royal Beggars” - which quickly transitions between stunning clean vocals and dreamy instrumentals to heartbreaking screams and massive guitar - are a perfect example of this. “Modern Misery” also feels very dark, frustrated and angry at the beginning, but drives toward hope and light with drums taking the lead and keeping things chugging forward.
The amount of growth and change on Holy Hell is drastic when listening to the beginning of the album compared to the end. Songs like “Modern Misery” and “Dying To Heal” definitely feel like healing compared to “Death is not Defeat” and “Mortal After All.” Although it doesn’t come without struggle (the explosive and aggressive “The Seventh Circle” is proof of just that) Holy Hell provides listeners with a sliver of hope and plenty of comfort, whether they’ve been in the band’s shoes before or are facing death or loss for the first time. With “Doomsday” and the cinematic track, “A Wasted Hymn” closing the album with the question “Can you live a life worth dying for?” Architects promise that they’re ready to tackle life and all of its obstacles head-on.
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LISTEN TO: “Holy Hell,” “Modern Misery” or “A Wasted Hymn”