Metal + hardcore punk = metalcore. To the untrained ear, metalcore is a lot of angry noise: brutal drums, huge guitars, epic screaming vocals, driving down-tuned bass. Simple, right? Like many musical sub-genres, there is a general “official” definition, then there are the myriad variations that compose reality.
The UK metalcore scene has been alive and well for years, but unlike it’s more monolithic American counterpart, it has drawn heavily from the variety of UK and European electronica to bring added complexity and weight to its sound. The introduction of synths and softer, cleaner—dare I say delicate?—vocals on some tracks have pushed the continuing evolution of the genre without losing touch with its roots.
Enter Architects. Hailing from Brighton, in East Sussex, the metalcore quintet has been making music since its formation in the early-2000s. I was lucky enough to catch them headlining at Washington D.C.’s9:30 Club on their Holy Hell Tour supported by fellow metalcore juggernauts Thy Art Is Murder and While She Sleeps. Architects’ eighth album, Holy Hell, released in 2018, came on the heels of the passing of founding member Tom Searle in 2016 at age 28 after a lengthy battle with skin cancer. A number of the tracks on Holy Hell are based on material Searle was unable to finish before his untimely death and brought to fruition by his twin brother Dan as both a tribute and way of showing the band’s path forward. Holy Hell may be the perfect title, as both an exclamation and descriptor of the weight of the material and energy the band brings to its performance.
Opening their 16-song set with “Death Is Not Defeat” off the new album, lead singer Sam Carter dove in with a frenetic energy that carried through the rest of the night. The spectacle of blazing lights and smoke matched perfectly with the sonic hailstorm the band brought to the stage. In recent years, 9:30 Club has shied away from booking many heavy bands, and Architects’ set was the perfect re-introduction of a raging mosh pit to the venue’s storied floor. While playing a mix of songs all the way back to “These Colours Don’t Run” off 2013’s Daybreaker, the undeniable high point came at the encore with their performance of one of Tom Searle’s unfinished tracks, “Doomsday.”
They say “the good die young” No use in saying ”what is done is done” ’cause it’s not enough And when the night gives way It’s like a brand new doomsday What will be will be Every river flows into the sea, but it’s never enough And when the night gives way It’s like a brand new doomsday
– “Doomsday” from Holy Hell (2018)
Architects is currently on their European tour, playing festivals like Rock Am Ring at the Nürburgring in early June, before heading to July dates in France, Spain, Germany, and central Europe, ending up in Australia in August. This band is a must-see for fans of metalcore!