‘Hereafter‘, the newest single from Architects’ upcoming album ‘Holy Hell‘, sounds like survival, death, confidence, and uncertainty all wrapped up into one mammoth piece. When Sam Carter screams “I wasn’t ready for the fallout“, it’s a powerful statement of the lingering grief that’s followed him and the band ever since the death of guitarist/songwriter Tom Searle back in 2016. After teasing this new release on their official website this week with a re-stringed, redux version of ‘Memento Mori‘, the band now prepares to enter their latest, darkest chapter: ‘Holy Hell‘. (And yes, Doomsday‘ will also feature on this new record too).
I don’t need to regurgitate the UNFD press release like countless other media outlets have about what the band themselves have said regarding this new single and forthcoming record. We’re all fully aware of the context around Architects as people and of their career right now. That this new record is them trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel; them trying to shine a light through the bleak clouds in the wake of an upheaving death; and that the band can hopefully offer solace to not just themselves, but to anyone else listening who may be experiencing similar situations of loss in their own life. Even just looking at the song titles to ‘Holy Hell‘, you see the group’s doubt present but also their determination to continue on: ‘Death Is Not Defeat‘, ‘Hereafter‘ (meaning from this point onwards), ‘Dying To Heal‘, ‘A Wasted Hymn‘, and ‘Royal Beggars‘. It’s right there in the names, folks. As I’m damn sure it will be there in the lyrical content and in the way this album’s music breathes and flows too.
Architects really aren’t shying or hiding away from what happened, facing their pain head-on in the only way they can: by putting it all into their music and staving off over-loaded metaphors. They could have easily stepped away for a couple years, or even called it quits, and no one would’ve questioned it or called them out on it. (Hell, even ‘Hereafter‘ states as much about that pain in the rawest way: “when will I finally get the message?/some things are broken beyond repair“). Instead, the band hasn’t slowed down. This is still their mourning process, and even in their despair, they’re keeping their heads up as best as they can whilst honoring their fallen friend and brother. I have no doubt this new record will be taking Architects and the listener rough the multiple stages of grief, if not all five of them.
As for the actual music here, let’s talk about that for a bit. Everything about ‘Hereafter‘ is just so well-rounded sonically, with a huge amount of depth being found in the song’s arrangements and their instrumental space. I mean, given the high-quality recordings and production of their previous two records, I cannot say I’m at all surprised that Architects continue to sound like one of the best in the metalcore business. ‘Holy Hell‘ was actually self-produced by drummer Dan Searle and newish guitarist Josh Middleton, and their production, along with Josh’s riff-approach here (crunch first, djent second) is definitely noticeable. Both in terms of what his output was with his former band Sylosis and what Architects have done before guitar-wise.
At its very core, this is a great track. It’s heavy yet still incredibly catchy. And I think we can all agree on that. Although, this is simply just more Architects in terms of sound and formula. The subtle electronics, smooth melodic guitars, the fluttering keys that lightly drop down onto the track like raindrops, Dan Searle’s tight and snappy drumming, the usual rhythms, breakdowns and chugs, Sam’s impressive pitched-screaming, to even his “bleugh” scream at the end of the song; it’s all a very expected Architects song when you break it’s individual parts right down. (Well, save for Sam’s clean backing vocal harmonies heard in the choruses, that is).
So, will this new LP just be another take on their ‘Lost Forever//Lost Together‘ and ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us‘ era of songwriting, just with a few extra cleanly sung parts? Or will it actually hold a few more curveballs than first expected? Either way, at the very least, it’ll no doubt be a solid record come release on November 9th. Which is the really interesting thing about this new record for me: the wider emotional context of the life-changing loss this band suffered is what will ensure ‘Holy Hell‘ is still more than just a carbon copy of their two biggest albums. Now, that sounds super callous and dickish of me, but in all honesty, let’s call a spade what it is: a spade. I fucking love Architects and the music they’ve made over the years – and this is a great track as I said just before- but that doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore the lack of any real changing dynamic in their music over time either.
As for the song’s music video, the band “performs” this new track in a desolate, hellish CGI environment, with all of the brighter colors washed out. Whereas the front cover for ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us‘ was a white light eclipsing something darker – shielding us from it in a way – the cover for ‘Holy Hell‘ (as seen above) is on the polar opposite of the spectrum. Here, it’s dark shapes now swallowing up the light to form a dire greyscale tone. And that’s all reflected in the grading of this new clip, I feel.
The video’s narrative shots show all five members of Architects gazing up toward the sky in awe (and/or fear) of something. With some great editing, and with the tectonic drop of the song’s second chorus landing, we finally learn what has captivated their eyes: a dark, brewing storm in the distance as countless people float upwards a la the rapture. Yet the band members are stuck back on solid ground; still alive, still left behind, and now stuck watching on with nothing to be done on their end. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the metaphor they’re striking at here.
The consistency of the imagery between this new clip and that of ‘Doomsday‘ from 2017 is also really interesting. Given that their both focused on an afterlife, on the heavens, and of a theme of ascension as well. (Even the lyrics here mirror that of ‘Doomsday‘: “Now the skies have been blacked out/I’ve got to find my way“). Considering what’s happened to these guys over the past two years, these visuals aren’t surprising but they do carry that much more weight. And I don’t think I need to spell it out anymore for anyone else either. The music and video more than speaks for themselves! Be sure to watch the full clip below:
‘Holy Hell’ drops November 9th via UNFD. Check out the record’s tracklisting below:
1. Death Is Not Defeat
3. Mortal After All
4. Holy Hell
6. Royal Beggars
7. Modern Misery
8. Dying To Heal
9. The Seventh Circle
11. A Wasted Hymn