You know that feeling when you press play on Pantera’s Great Southern Trend Kill or Slipknot’s Iowa? That feeling of having a sonic missile bulldoze its way into your ears leaving you with momentary brain damage? Well, you’ll get that same feeling of excitement when you listen to All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, the seventh studio record from Brighton boys Architects. Roaring out of its cage like an untamed predator, opening track ‘Nihilist’ comprises blistering guitar work, pulverising blast beats and Sam Carter’s larynx-eroding screams; it will leave your senses dazed and your hearing bruised – in short, this is how you open an album.
Back in 2009 there were two bands which flew the flag for British metalcore more than any other group: Bring Me The Horizon with Suicide Season and Architects on Hollow Crown. Thereafter, Horizon released the masterpiece that is There Is A Hell, whilst Architects produced the much maligned, by band and fans alike, The Here And Now, which at best lacked the bite and pace of Hollow Crown and at worst was a cynical attempt to get airplay on Radio One. However, since this momentary identity crisis Architects have been on seemingly unstoppable creative form, releasing two great records in the form of 2012’s Daybreaker and 2014’s critically acclaimed Lost Forever // Lost Together. All our Gods Have Abandoned Us not only continues their recovery from the misguided The Here And Now but establishes Architects as one of the most relevant, exciting and important bands in Britain, not just in metalcore but contemporary music. Whilst Horizon have undeniably taken a more mainstream approach with their latest release, That’s The Spirit, Architects have continued to travel down a more aggressive and abrasive path; it appears that the key to their success was not to try and be popular amongst Big-Mac-and-chips music listeners, but to be themselves and play ferocious music.
‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’ is uncompromisingly heavy
On the musical front, All Our Gods is essentially a refinement and expansion of LF//LT rather than a dramatic shift in sound, but hey, if the formula works, why alter it? Architects have one of the most recognizable guitar tones in metal – no small feat in 2016 – and its Tom Searle’s spine-tingling plucking on tracks like ‘A Match Made In Heaven’ and ‘Downfall’ that makes these tracks as brilliant as they are.
Throughout the record the guitars shift from grooves reminiscence of Lamb of God to a technical, mathcore approach that one would expect to hear from Dillinger Escape Plan, and then to ambient melodies that Deftones would be proud of. The record boasts riffs for days and it’s the most brutal release in Architect’s growing discography: the break down on ‘Nihilist’ could wake the dead and the barrage of riffs on ‘Phantom Fear’ will melt your face off. Amongst the five fine musicians playing on the album Dan Searle, the twin brother of guitarist Tom, deserves special mention. The drum rolls on ‘The Empty Hourglass’ build tension, the cymbal work on ‘A Match Made In Heaven’ encourages head banging at breakneck speed, and the double bass on ‘Gravity’ will ignite circle pits aplenty when they detonate this tune live.
Architects have continued to travel down a more aggressive and abrasive path
The song structures are incredibly exciting: the basic formula of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, breakdown, outro is absent. The songs transform constantly; when you expect a melody to follow soft vocals on ‘The Empty Hourglass’, for example, suddenly you’re hit with a blast beat. Their willingness to innovate and experiment at this stage in their career should be commended regardless of the results, but the fact that every track is staggeringly good means that this is one of 2016’s hottest releases.
It’s the album’s unpredictability that holds the listener’s attention: with every listen one can explore new pathways in All Our God’s soundscape, and its nuances and intricacies embarrass most other bands playing music today. Electronics also feature extensively on the album in much the same way as BMTH used them on There Is A Hell: they add texture to melodic moments and add another layer of heaviness to the record’s sonic assaults.
Architects have been stressing in interviews over the last couple of years that they wish to be compared to bands like Tool, Deftones, Biffy Clyro and Meshuggah instead of the generic metalcore bands they are usually, and lazily, lumped in with. The whole Warped Tour scene has been a creative desert inhabited by bands void of identity playing predictable music and singing lyrics vacant of meaning for over half a decade. These bands (not to call any out *cough* Blessthefall *cough* New Years Day *cough*) passively mimic bands like Horizon, but produce music of a much lower standard, and care more about their haircuts and achieving mainstream success than the substance of their creative output.
Architects spit in the face of this approach of selling aesthetic rather than art, as All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us is uncompromisingly heavy, unique and shows no sign of wanting to be played on the radio. This is revealed no more clearly than on album closer ‘Momento Mori’, an eight-minute epic that twists and turns from brute heaviness to progressive post-metal – its constantly evolving nature justifies its extensive length and it is a truly masterful composition. Few, if any, of the metalcore bands they are often compared to could pull this off, proving beyond doubt Architect’s status as a creative juggernaut.
Frontman Sam Carter’s vocals also deserve heaps of praise. In recent years, bands like Horizon and Parkway Drive have increasingly adopted clean singing alongside the use of screams and growls. In most cases the question of how much of this is the talent of the singer and how much is the work of studio tools arises; conversely, with Sam there is no doubt he is a phenomenal clean singer as well as a master of heavy vocals.
those cathartic ‘bleughs’ peppered throughout the record will have you releasing energy in the pit
This is not to say that his soft vocals are saccharine; there is still a raw intensity as the heartfelt signing on ‘Gone With The Wind’ proves. One can hear the genuine anger and desperation in his voice on every track and the idea that he might be faking the emotion in his performance never creeps into the listener’s mind. Such character, honesty and individuality in the vocals means he should be compared to vocalists like Rage Against the Machine’s Zach de la Rocha or Korn’s Jonathan Davis over any of his contemporaries. Go and listen to the beautiful melody around the two-minute mark on ‘Gone With The Wind’ and then try and disagree with that assertion. Plus, there are those cathartic ‘bleughs’ Sam’s famous for peppered throughout the record which will have you releasing energy in the pit.
Both Sam’s snarls and the white hot heaviness of the music accompanying the vocals provide the perfect backdrop for the apocalyptic imagery evoked by the politicised lyrics delivered on the record. Tracks like ‘Downfall’ and ‘Deathwish’ tackle themes as dark as their pessimistic titles, including political corruption in Britain, environmental degradation, greed, warfare, and social inequalities, which are all linked together by the theme underpinning the entire record: that global annihilation is both inevitable and fast approaching. It’s a scathing critique of contemporary society, and their intention behind the record is therefore clear and admirable: they want to change the world, not become the most affluent band in it. Their lyrics have always been politically charged but the level of distaste for humanity on this record is at a whole new level. The album is thus a revealing insight into the mentality of a band who seek to save the earth in their everyday lives: all five are vegans who actively participate in environmental causes, most notably the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Ultimately, All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us is an exceptional record and sees Architects evolve and mature far beyond the metalcore scene they are so often thrown into. It’s a truly astonishing achievement and no band deserves it more – facing extinction with The Here and Now, Architects have clawed their way back by playing uncompromising music and have established themselves as one of 2016’s standout artists. Britain should be proud to have such a group and one struggles to think of a more inspirational story in modern music than the rise of this Brighton-based band.