The thing about existence—at least for organic life anyway—is that it necessitates evolution. Pressures both internal and external force characteristics and traits to continually change and evolve. Typically, these changes are small and gradual, but when viewed cumulatively, they combine to have a lasting effect on the organism. This slow metamorphosis ultimately works to create something new, something different—all in the name of survival.

Without this process, life in its great cosmic wisdom will inevitably grind you down to the primordial dust you came from. In this way, evolution is the only thing standing between us and oblivion.

British metallers Architects understand this concept better than most. 2018 saw the release of their eighth studio album, Holy Hell, their first release without lead guitarist Tom Searle, a founding member of the group and principal songwriter who passed away two years prior following a private three-year battle with cancer.

Holy Hell was fraught with loss and vulnerability, with compositions that provided much-needed catharsis to confront and overcome emotions of grief and despair. But, perhaps most importantly, tracks like “Mortal After All,” “Royal Beggars,” and the elegiac “A Wasted Hymn” hinted at the group’s future trajectory.

Across their near-twenty-year career and extensive back catalogue, Architects have undergone rapid and drastic changes. Compare a track from 2006’s Nightmares, their molten mathcore debut, side by side with one of their most recent efforts, and the contrast is stark indeed.

Much has already been said about the slew of pre-release singles from their ninth album, For Those Who Wish To Exist: the compressed guitar-rock of “Animals” and “Black Lungs”; the melodic undercurrent and sweeping orchestral arc of “Dead Butterflies”; the soaring radio balladry of “Meteor.” Some fans are open-minded and curious to see where this new direction will take the Brighton quintet. Others are more reluctant to embrace the change, instead craving a ‘return to form’ (read: anything that sounds like the spacey heaviness of 2014’s Lost Forever // Lost Together).

Yet again, this is another concept that Architects understand all too well. Critical and fan reception was also bitterly divided on 2011’s The Here and Now, the group’s post-hardcore tinged fourth album. So much so that the band ultimately disavowed the record’s material, launching them back into a heavy metalcore phase that lasted the better part of a decade.

Music, much like history, has a way of repeating itself. Patterns shift and reoccur, and evolution is ultimately a strange, fickle beast. It was only a matter of time before Architects felt the need to change once more.

“Do You Dream Of Armageddon?” opens For Those Who Wish To Exist with electronic glitches and swirling atmosphere before segueing headfirst into the syncopated guitar crunch of “Black Lungs.” Here, vocalist Sam Carter’s indomitable clean register goes right to work, only resorting to familiar screams for the track’s bridge.

With an intro and sonic profile ripped straight from Meteora-era Linkin Park, “Giving Blood” utilizes a catchy double-time chorus to give the record a jolt of intensity before making way for the ambitious standout track “Discourse is Dead”: a full-blown metalcore rager stacked with epic string sections, pierced screams, mid-range yells, and pummelling staccato riffage.

Architects have always used their ideological convictions as a thematic springboard, and For Those Who Wish To Exist is no exception. On the transcendent “Dead Butterflies,” the group take a more personal approach with a mournful meditation on happiness. Surrounded by lush strings and bright brass instrumentation, Carter delicately croons: “The flower that never blossoms is quickly forgotten/ It must be gold if it’s glistening.”

Elsewhere, “An Ordinary Extinction” and the pneumatic stomp of “Impermanence” spit venom against notions of communal apathy, the latter adding guttural punctuation with a gnashing guest feature from Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall. Wounds which are quickly soothed by the sombre, haunting melodies of “Flight Without Feathers”—another album standout.

However, evolution is not without its missteps and not every adaptive strategy on For Those Who Wish To Exist is a successful one. Despite appearances from Royal Blood’s Mike Kerr or curious lyrical metaphors (“You’re gonna choke when you drink from the fountain/We are the rust worshipping the rain”), tracks like “Little Wonder” and “Libertine” feel stale and inconsequential. Both play out as little more than second-order sonic simulacra—copies of copies—attempting to draw from the same wellspring of Linkin Park alt-metal that Bring Me The Horizon sucked dry a decade ago.

Things pick up slightly with the dissonant “Goliath,” bolstered by crushing heavy passages from guitarists Josh Middleton and Adam Christianson, alongside Dan Searle’s enviable percussive talents. Sporting an enormous breakdown and tortured screams from Biffy Clyro frontman Simon Neil, it’s a welcome rush of excitement, albeit one that’s immediately squandered by the milquetoast melodramatics of “Demigod” and “Meteor.” Once the acoustic grandiosity of album closer “Dying Is Absolutely Safe” arrives, most listeners will likely welcome the sweet release.

With fifteen tracks and an hour of music on offer, For Those Who Wish To Exist is an album best consumed and digested in movements, with discrete groupings that ebb and flow and resonate with the album’s grander purpose. It’s a record that’s sure to alienate some fans but will hopefully inspire others. Ultimately, however, it proves that Architects remain passionately committed to evolving as a musical collective and transcending genre limitations.

Pre-order and save For Those Who Wish To Exist here.

Author

Owen Morawitz is a writer, thirty-something human male and an avid devourer of coffee, literature, philosophy, film noir and science fiction. He enjoys carving out a meaningless existence in the abyssal void, venturing beyond the bounds of the Southern Hemisphere, and listening to music that’s at times poignant, abrasive and restless—except when hungover.

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