After the song accidentally released early on YouTube a couple weeks back, before being hastily removed, Architects have now officially released their new single & music video, ‘Black Lungs.’
‘Black Lungs‘ is really quite impressive. Impressive in the sense that Architects have such a large, bombastic production and arrangement on their hands with this new single, yet it still ultimately rings hollow. For how hard it tries, it’s just so… empty. It’s amazing how big but how vacuous the song sounds and feels. Not every single track a band puts out can be good, and this is exactly one of those moments for Architects on the contemporary, rock-orientated metalcore approach of ‘Black Lungs.’ (No, not ‘Black Blood,’ the bonus single from their U.S. re-issue of ‘Daybreaker.’) It’s real bad.
Some people may highlight Sam Carter’s vocals sounding noticeably tuned, or that the guitar riffs are a little stale and repetitive as to reasons why ‘Black Lungs‘ is a let down. But that’s the wrong hill to die on. Most vocalists these days – yes, likely those in your favourite band(s) – will have some kind of soft tuning placed on their vocals in the mix to help with subtle inconsistencies and tone. This doesn’t detract from what we already know: Sam’s a great vocalist, whether he’s singing or screaming, and he’s come very far since the days of ‘Hollow Crown‘ (2008) and ‘The Here And Now‘ (2011). That, and the vocal tuning here seems more of an artistic effect for the kind of mainstream rock/metalcore style the song’s intentionally following. As for the riffs? Well, a song doesn’t need to have complex, finger-twisting chord shapes or be using every inch of the guitar’s neck in order to be good. As it stands, Josh Middleton and Adam Christianson’s guitar work isn’t anything that special here, but at the very least it’s functional and gets the job done within context.
What does let ‘Black Lungs‘ down, however, is a disgusting lack of any interesting hooks or meaningful vocal melodies, how it’s form runs very close to that of ‘Animals,’ and an unescapable sense that it’s running through the motions until it crosses the finish line. While I didn’t necessarily love previous single, ‘Animals,’ that song was a far cry better than this. There was much more dynamic going on with that track. By comparison, ‘Black Lungs‘ makes me like ‘Animals‘ more so. Everything attempted in this composition was achieved better on ‘Animals.’ On that single, Sam sings this great little vocal run in the post-chorus section, “should I just pull the pin?“, and it carries more heart, more memorability in that one single line than the entirety of this new song.
There’s so little to latch onto, so little to sink one’s teeth into here. At most, the lyricism about how poisonous our world is – to the point where it could “plague a saint” – and that that there’s so much “ash” from the destruction our species creates that future generations will have their lungs turn black from the toxicity of the very air is the only thing of note about ‘Black Lungs.’ Even then, the band fail to go into wider detail about what this rot that’s killing our society is and where this deeper corruption is coming from, nor any ideas on how to maybe combat this. It’s just a hopeless blanket-statement analysis of our dying world, without any new insights offered.
In many Architects‘ songs, the breakdowns are often a high-point. On ‘Black Lungs,’ there’s a breakdown because of course their fucking is, yet it lacks any real bite; neither in its build-up or climax. To the point where it may have been better to not even feature that particular part. Meh metalcore breakdowns aside, many have labelled this a “BMTH clone,” which is a term that I’m starting to somewhat detest. As BMTH aren’t original in the trends that they set; they’re just the biggest name popularising pre-existing ideas that other bands will later rip-off. But in this instance of ‘Black Lungs‘, people are definitely correct in that comparison with regards to the vocals, choruses, synths and general feel of it all. Architects and their peers in BMTH are mates and both came up in the same music scene around the same time, so there’s likely going to be some comparisons right off the bat. Even ‘Animals‘ copped that same likening, but this latest single is WAY more egregious. Which is also kinda funny, as Oli Sykes and co. no longer sound like this; their latest EP was Mick Gordon DOOM synths mixed with Linkin Park choruses.
Architects‘ upcoming album ‘For Those That Wish To Exist‘ is out February 26th, 2021. So far it’s shaping up to be The Here And Now 2.0, a noticeable shift in their already established sound. Though unlike that 2011 LP, I anticipate that this new record won’t be so hastily discarded and forgotten about by its own creators post-release. Watch the video for ‘Black Lungs‘ below: