Album: For Those That Wish To Exist
FFO: While She Sleeps, Northlane, Erra
Architects... I need to start by saying I love these guys. They are one of my favorite bands. I thoroughly enjoy every album they've put out front to back since Hollow Crown. However, Holy Hell wasn't my favorite. I say that because it seems like everyone is obsessed with that record but I hold plenty other records from them higher. With that being said, I still liked it a good deal. Now here we are, with the first true record without Tom. It's bittersweet because I love and miss Tom, but it's also a new start for the band, which also allows for a deep understanding in the change of sound. Don't get me wrong, I think this still sounds like Architects, but… let’s get into it.
When the first single dropped, 'Animals', I was caught a little off guard of course. But after the first listen I told myself "Alright, this is the new direction" then I listened to it with that mindset and after another couple listens, I absolutely loved it. It might be my favorite of the singles.
*Something you need to understand about me before I get deeper into this review, is I don't care what a band used to sound like. I don't care if a band used to be death metal and now they do pop, I just ask myself 1 thing: IS THE MUSIC GOOD. I'm not some elitist for a specific sound. I love dozens of different genres. So I'm not about to be a cry baby because a band evolves after 8 albums. Anyway... I naturally became very excited for this 15 track beast with key names as guest features.*
As more singles dropped though, I kept having to adjust for a bit after first listen. ‘Black Lungs’ ended up being close to my least favorite single because it sounded like they were almost, trying too hard? Like they want to go in a new direction but forcing themselves to bring in the old. Yet when those paths crossed in a single song, I don't think it resulted in a completely coalescent sound. ‘Dead Butterflies’ then brought it back for me. I saw this song during their livestream so I knew the studio version would be great. Then ‘Meteor’; this was the worst one for me. The overall sound isn't even "bad" persae. But the rhythm and vocals just seemed off to me. Like I couldn't catch a decent groove that I enjoyed. And still in the context of the whole album, I can't get into it.
*This then leads me to another topic I won't spend too much time on: Large albums, aren't always a good thing. Sure, I naturally get excited about a 15 song album, but that also could just leave room for duds. Which can be especially disappointing for someone like myself that loves listening to records front to back. Take Post Malone as an example. Something like 18 songs on an album? I am a big fan of him, but those last couple records would've been much better with 5 or 6 of those weaker tracks gone. Therefore I will never listen to those albums front to back again. I have to cherry pick. In terms of Architects, this album could've gone without a few of these in my personal opinion for those same reasons.*
Now that the singles and a couple rants are out of the way, let's look into the rest of the record. The album opens with a “vocal solo” if you will. It’s just Sam singing with ambience for about a minute. Cool opening I guess, but didn’t transition into the second track, ‘Black Lungs’ as smoothly as I was wanting. I will say though that I do like this song a little better than the first listen. I obviously won’t go through all these songs, so I’ll mention a few key things worthy of pointing out, good or bad. ‘Giving Blood’ is definitely the first real taste, in order of the songs on the album, of the band going into a more “rock” territory. I actually really like the core groove of it, especially that drum opening, very cool. Overall the song is just fine. ‘Discourse is Dead’ starts like any other song but quickly forms into the sound people mostly know from Architects. I can’t help but mention the start of the chorus “Sing us a sad song” instantly reminds me of the Like Moths To Flames chorus in their song ‘I Solemnly Swear’. This is a heavier, “safer”, song on the album though and I really like it. ‘Impermanence’ is a song I was looking most forward to due to Winston McCall being the feature. He was my favorite part about the song but, it was unfortunately another song I just felt whatever about. It didn’t do much to excite me or get me into the otherwise straightforward beat and lackluster breakdown. ‘Libertine’ picked it up a lot for me after mostly uninteresting songs prior. It’s a much bigger, warm track. Also has a vibe I can really get into. ‘Goliath’ continued this newfound excitement within the album with a heavier, and get this; fast track. It’s super catchy and groovy. Which all fulfilled my personal hype prior to it starting because I was once again anticipating the feature. Biffy, although what would seem outside his comfort zone, did really well. To just touch on the closing track, it was nice. After seeing the acoustic set they did during the livestream, I actually perked up hearing acoustics start on this final track because they did it really well at the time. It was a nice finisher.
As for the band themselves, the drums stood out to me more than they ever have in regards to Architects, and I’m not sure why. All I know is Dan kills it on this record. My more appreciated aspect of the album as a whole. Sam’s vocals are much more diverse, for better or worse. There’s moments I love the cleans and moments I think it sounds a little tacky. I honestly think the cleans sound way better live. I never disliked them for a moment when I saw the livestream, but something about the record version doesn’t sit right with me 100% of the time. Not to mention, believe it or not, Sam showed off some great lows during the livestream that popped up nowhere on this album; bummer. Speaking of vocals, I’m a little sad they didn’t utilize Josh’s great vocal skills more. He’s a really good vocalist that I think could have contributed more. The theme and tone of this record, despite any ideas you might get from just the sound, is rather dark, per usual. To sum it all up in my own words; we are all doomed, it’s our fault, and it’s too late. So nothing crazy original, but still welcomed.
I really in all honesty respect what they are doing here whether I like it or not. There’s a good amount I enjoy and some I don't. But then there’s this middle ground where I don’t think certain things came together like they could have. It’s those songs that they wanted to try something new but keep in an “older” sound at the same time without just dedicating to one or the other and thing’s ended up sounding off (Meteor, An Ordinary Extinction, ex). If this is the direction they are headed in though, I expect them to tighten those issues up and have an even better sound next time around for album 10.
After a few full listens, I unfortunately have to admit that this has been my least favorite from them thus far. For the most part, I am unenthusiastic about quite a few of these songs. I was disappointed, a little lost, and even a bit bored at times. I definitely didn’t hate it, just can’t say I loved it. The last leg proved to be some of my favorite tracks, but couldn’t carry the weight of the middle chunk I didn’t care much for. Architects will continue to be one of my favorite groups and I will be getting the most out of this album as I can, but I hope to see a more well rounded sound next time around.
Strongest Song: Discourse Is Dead, Animals, Libertine, Goliath
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/architects/182821355