Architects- The Here And Now
Evolution is good isn't it? If you're going to have a pop at it maybe you should have a sit down and think what it would be like to still be some amoebic blob bouncing along with the gunk at the bottom of the sea. Or hijack Bill and Ted's phonebox and go and have a word with Darwin about it. I've seen pictures of him, he'd probably deck you. No, evolution is a fine thing. And this seems to be the attitude that Brighton four-piece Architects have.
Having built themselves a metalcore empire with solid foundations in brutality and heaviness and soaring to apexes fashioned from harshest riffs, (the architecture lingo stops here) 2009's third album 'Hollow Crown' was hailed as a masterpiece of musical engineering. (We lied.) So, with the immense chugging still reverberating in my skull it was as if someone turned the volume down upon listening to new record "The Here And Now". If that sounds like criticism, think again. The mellowing is more like that of a lovely rioja maturing to the title of 'vintage' rather than a case of simply running out of steam. There's plenty of steam. The most I've heard in music since East 17's song of the same name.
A blazing opener sets the bar high, single release 'Day In Day Out' making for a perfect statement of intent for the album and for the new sound for Architects. Within a couple of minutes you are safely assured that none of the impeccable instrumental technicality has been lost at all in turning the heat down a touch. One of the most cooled points of the album comes in the form of 'An Open Letter To Myself', which unleashes melodic guitar which writhes around in your ears like a sexy dancer. Gutteral screaming is lent a hand by choral harmonies binding the sound together beautifully, which is the way much of this record plays out. Oh, and just to warn you, the surprisingly tender 'Heartburn' comes and charms you when you're least expecting it. Don't want you being pushed into a metaphorical icy plunge pool after a stint in the sauna.
It was upon reaching 'Learn To Live' and later on 'Red Eyes' that I was smacked a little by something of a Young Guns comparison, and 'Delete Rewind' has a flavour of a more foresighted and heavier 'Thefakesoundofprogress' in places. So a much acclaimed alternative rock band tipped for massive things and a nu-metal flavour of glory days gone by? You can't go wrong with that. Add a taste of The Blackout in tracks like 'BTN' and you can get an idea of what we're dealing with.
'The Blues' and 'Stay Young Forever' are the most true to the Architects sound of old. They're more faithful to the ghosts of that unflinching chug and punishing breakdowns, but the shade has definitely been lifted with a greater concentration of melody; most certainly vocally. Closing note 'Year In Year Out/Up And Away' wants to remind you what Architects are about. They still boast the power to grab you by the throat even if they've decided to calm down on the kicking and screaming front. It's as if they've been to see Mr Miyagi for some lessons in power within self control.
There's no two ways about it. "The Here And Now" comes galloping at you, full pelt, like a champion horse who's been palmed a nosebag of speed. It grabs your attention, makes you thirsty for more, and is just a cracking album. Furthermore, they've developed towards something with a much wider appeal, which seems to be working a treat if their inclusion on Radio 1 playlists is anything to go by. It may be a bit of a shock for some of the fans that have been there from the beginning. But give change a chance. You don't want to force a glass ceiling on talent like this.