REVIEW: Architects – the classic symptoms of a broken spirit

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Following the critically acclaimed, mostly remotely conjured 2021 album, “For Those That Wish to Exist,” the UK metalcore bunch, ARCHITECTS, released their tenth studio album “the classic symptoms of a broken spirit” just now, on October 21st, 2022, via Epitaph. Staying true to their shapeshifting inner spirit, the new album finds the band continuing to refine their sound by reaching further into the industrial and electronic realms. The shadow of BRING ME THE HORIZON is, obviously, rather strong with this effort, but there are a whole bunch of other delicious nuances as well, ranging from the occasional RAMMSTEIN stomp to a hint of nu-metal á la vintage DEFTONES. Perhaps the most conspicuous aspect inherent in quite a few of these new songs is the fact that they sure beg to be belted out in big arenas, what with the arena-sized singalong choruses and gargantuan riffs. Metalcore with a distinct pop edge such as this is escapist in nature, for sure, but I guess that it’s just what the doctor should order in a world gone completely bonkers.

The album kicks off with strong BMTH vibes – that is, from the era before that Sheffield outfit got sucked into the dubstep vortex. The album opener, “Deep Fake,” begins with some Nintendo synths and atmospheric electronica before the chorus delivers a gut-punch of singalong-worthy metalcore. On occasion, vocalist Sam Carter‘s belting and phrasing do trigger rather strong Oli Sykes flashbacks, but I guess it’s inevitable when you mix big pop choruses and metalcore riffs this way. There is one thing that sets this bunch apart: Carter‘s delicate falsetto may not reach the sphere of EARTH, WIND & FIRE, but it’s still something to send shivers down your spine.

Next, “Tear Gas” throws in a bunch of riffs that steamroll forward with a subtle RAMMSTEIN vibe from the “Reise, Reise”-era, while Carter‘s vocal delivery is more reminiscent of THREE DAYS GRACE. It stirs things up rather nicely, further pronouncing the fact that ARCHITECTS is not merely about being the heir apparent to BMTH.

The metalcore stomping gives way to nu-metal, if not post-grunge even, on “Spit the Bone,” especially in the verses. When the song hits the chorus, the familiar metalcore-meets-pop onslaught is in full swing. The same holds true for “Burn Down My House,” except that the song maintains that alternative/nu-metal edge throughout the song, not even once returning to the metalcore toolbox. So, it becomes obvious that this new ARCHITECTS endeavor is an equally choice treat to fans of both BMTH and THREE DAYS GRACE. Radio-friendly could be the choicest adjective here, although I’m sure it might hit a nerve with some of the band’s longtime fans.

The rest of the album does not offer much more by way of surprise. Nonetheless, I find the mix of big choruses, metalcore breakdowns, and lighter nu-metal nuances most appealing. On a peculiar side note, played in a bit slower 1990s-tinted alternative-rock tempo, “Living Is Killing Us” could have fit any of those seminal BUSH albums from yesteryear, maybe even their spectacular “The Art of Survival” album released this year. For a metalcore offering, “The Classic Symptoms of Broken Spirit” is deliciously versatile, albeit the varied nuances aren’t maybe that in-your-face. It gently suggests that the album might prove to be a slow-grower for those who aren’t immediately lured by its magic. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why anyone wouldn’t be – the album is comprised of eleven sure-fire metalcore-cum-pop bangers.

Typically, when a metal outfit throws in a good pinch of pop elements, certain fractions of the fanbase have a habit of turning into their harshest critics. So, yes, I’m afraid that ARCHITECTS, apparently, have become a huge sell-out by now if you ask those folks, but as the new album really does kick ass in spite of all the pop ornaments, I’m still willing to buy. I’d choose “the classic symptoms of a broken spirit” over those textbook emo efforts built exclusively with the breakdown-after-breakdown approach, anytime. Wallowing in abject misery gets boring after a while, but it becomes a whole new ballgame when you do it with just the right laissez-faire attitude – and a hefty pop seasoning. The world is utterly wretched and hopeless, but who says we should let it break our spirit? This new ARCHITECTS offering works wonders in assisting us to hold our middle finger up to this shit show unfolding all around us.

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Tracklist

  1. Deep Fake
  2. Tear Gas
  3. Spit the Bone
  4. Burn Down My House
  5. Living Is Killing Us
  6. When We Were Young
  7. Doomscrolling
  8. Born Again Pessimist
  9. A New Moral Low Ground
  10. All the Love in the World
  11. Be Very Afraid

Lineup

Dan Searle – drums, percussion, programming

Sam Carter – vocals

Alex Dean – bass, keyboards

Adam Christianson – guitars

Josh Middleton – guitars

Label

Epitaph

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