Architects: Holy Hell

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There can be few better genres to deal with tragedy than loud metal, and grief suits the music of Architects. This is the band’s first album since the death of guitarist and songwriter Tom Searle, twin of drummer Dan, and the death dominates the album.

Subtle it’s not, in any sense of the word, which is not to say it’s not intelligent or touching; there’s just no wondering what the song is about.

Opener Death Is Not Defeat smashes in after a few moments of mournful strings. With Dan becoming lyricist following his brother’s death, he’s given free rein to vent the feelings of a 28-year-old on his twin’s death, the song ranging from bleakness in “Why do we fight what we can’t define?” to hope, “I’ll finally see you where oceans meet”. Other song titles include Hereafter (“My own meaningless catastrophe / I never had the time to prepare”) Mortal After All (“And all worlds must collapse”) and Wasted Hymn (“Can you live a life worth dying for?”).

The ocean and water seem to figure in the lyrics a lot: the band is from Brighton but the theme put us in mind of the BBC documentary on waves, which ends up comparing waves to life itself; the body, like a wave, is a temporary repository of energy that continues to exist after the wave/body is no more.

Musically, it’s visceral and powerful, the vocals mostly shouted, if not actual screaming, with occasional moments of melody, the guitars dark and heavy, although not predictable. It’s far from niche (ie unlistenable) though.

A review we read said that sections of demos, voice notes and riffs that Tom was practising have been cut up and scattered throughout the record; a rock band’s version of scattering the ashes at a favourite spot.


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