The members of Architects sound pained on their 2018 full length, Holy Hell. The record stands as a monument of trailblazing emotional intensity, a force paired with instrumental flourishes that fittingly complement and complete the mood.
The piece is the first LP following the death of the band’s guitarist and founding member, Tom Searle. The weight of losing someone close pushes down on the listener throughout Holy Hell in a very striking fashion. The whole record jumps out as “real.” There’s nothing at all contrived about it.
Not everyone might be able to perfectly relate with every sentiment expressed on the record, but that’s no drawback. The members of Architects, in this particular instance led by frontman Sam Carter, have crafted a lyrical and overall thematic space for listeners to let it all out, whatever that “it” may be.
That’s hardly hyperbole. On the track “The Seventh Circle,” Carter’s piercing screams proclaim that the speaker, hardly fully distinguishable from the band members, considering the circumstances, wants to be done with reality.
In short, then, it’s clear that the pain from losing Tom fueled this record’s punch. The band has always marked itself by incorporating very real-world concerns into their music, and now, they found themselves with something too close to home, but they haven’t given up.
Throughout Holy Hell, the instrumentals are even emotional. Usage of unique, non-traditional instruments and a willingness to match Carter’s expressed sense of defeat with crushing metal establishes the record as a perfectly unified work of art. Holy Hell weighs down on the listener, demanding some sort of response by virtue of its sheer intensity.
The band has clearly worked diligently to make Holy Hell something other than a dirge. This piece is far from the end of Tom’s legacy, and neither does it mark a fall for the band as a whole. The closing track contains the repeated line offered almost as a mantra: “all is not lost.”
The musical and thematic despair is not minimized, but the band has obviously dug into the depths of their collective soul to drag out and confront every stewing emotion, even the hope.