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Pressure can be a funny thing. So too expectation. In essence, it boils down to a glorified balancing act. Deliver and the praise is instant. Stoic in fact. Fail and the ire is unforgiving.
UK upstarts (can we still apply this label) Architects are the opportunists. But not yet the genre’s flag-bearers. A host of successful tours and promising releases has seen the Brighton five-piece referenced glowingly. Hence, fourth studio album ‘The Here and Now‘ is an interesting case study indeed.
While ‘Ruin‘ was a solid launching pad and ‘Hollow Crown‘ assertive, ‘The Here and Now‘ is not afforded the same luxuries. The general yardstick suggests that by album four, the sound should be clear and defined. The execution precise.
If this album is to be properly embraced it is worth understanding that there is some obvious change going on. The biggest selling point here is the differences rather than similarities contained in the Architects sound. ‘The Here and Now‘ certainly mixes things up. At times drastically. Yes, there is more clean vocals. Yes, the music may not be as abrasive and raw. But what is substituted is a re-worked style that is bold and dynamic, not to mention well-planned. The addition of predominant lighter vocals almost sees ‘The Here and Now‘ closely resemble a more contemporary version of Alexisonfire. It is a change. One which may be lauded and one which may be equally frowned upon. However, the sound is not as cluttered, all the while still fitting in with the aesthetics of melodic hardcore.
This is arguably Architects‘ catchiest album yet (however, in metal/hardcore circles is this a criticism more so than a compliment?). In this instance, it is intended as a positive. Some metal fans may be put offside slightly, with those subtle Norma Jean/Meshuggah-like compounding rhythms evaporating, but it seems like a conscious decision from the British lads.
Opening track, ‘Day In, Day Out‘ is forceful, sounding like ‘Meridional vol. 2′ before finding its own stance; capped off by an effective chorus. While concluding track ‘Year In Year Out/Up and Away‘, which features guest vocals from Dillinger front man Greg Puciato is a highlight. Talk about saving the best for last, hey? For those assorted tracks sandwiched in between, ‘Learn to Live‘ is steady and driving while ‘The Blues‘ is lively. Conversely, ‘Red Eyes‘ channels a post-hardcore approach.
Let’s not begrudge the band for abandoning a considerable amount of their previous chaotic roots but ideally it would be nice just to see a little bit of retention too. Opinions will most probably be divided early on. Give this one the once over and then let it filter through before making any rushed decisions. A confident release if nothing else.
‘The Here and Now‘ is indicative of those who crafted it. Subtle refinement is matched by obvious musical change, all the time anchored by a youthful dare. Architects‘s fourth studio album will be a talking point in 2011. Whether you hail it as brilliant, lament the new direction or enjoy it momentarily, Architects have released a solid, if not interesting album. Now bring on the rest of the year’s eagerly awaited releases.
1. Day In Day Out
2. Learn To Live
3. Delete, Rewind.
5. An Open Letter To Myself
6. The Blues
7. Red Eyes
8. Stay Young Forever
10. Year In Year Out / Up And Away