Architects, I wish to have this not exist
In a social landscape and climate highlighted and scarred by a particularly tumultuous period, it often remains a burgeoning task to find any silver lining whatsoever. In concluding a trilogy of albums that dealt with loss and grief, especially the death of their guitarist, Tom Searle, twin brother and bandmate of drummer Dan Searle, Architects had seemingly landlocked themselves into a dark yet isolated style of contemporary metalcore. For Those That Wish To Exist (2021) is a significant step past that.
Yet, closing that door may have just opened a far, far, worse one.
In reading far and well, For Those That Wish To Exist isn’t exactly a contender for album of the year. Many lifelong lovers of Architects and early 2010 djent-y metalcore bands have been crushed by their insistence to ‘sell out,’ or ‘go mainstream-pop,’ oftentimes comparing their newest work to that of a nu-metal Imagine Dragons. However, it’d be extremely hard-pressing to say that either band is tantamount to the other, but that’s not why people are here. Chances are, you’re here because you either love or hate alt-metal and are psyched or seething that Architects are fully embracing it.
After a short little tease of the shape of migraines to come, the second single, “Black Lungs,” starts demonstrating the band’s boldness at toeing the line of insufferableness and lack of originality. The vocal breaks and overbearing strings become way too much, even just a few songs in, such as in “Discourse Is Dead,” which particularly highlights how even the over-the-top production sheen can’t save the individual parts from just blending and bleeding into one another.
Granted, Architects have never melded much virtuosic djent instrumentals with electronica as, say, Animals as Leaders, or even Periphery. Another popular critique is how the exceptionally indulgent use of electronic elements, as well as the clean vocals and symphonic parts, lean the band towards a more pop-oriented sound, but this is far from the truth. Songs like “Dead Butterflies,” “Flight Without Feathers” and “Little Wonder,” albeit pop-sounding, lack the well-crafted, catchy elements and staying power that top 40 hits bring to the table.
Furthermore, the comparisons to how Asking Alexandria, Bring Me The Horizon or Bullet For My Valentine took up alt-metal tendencies later in their career are a farce, since at least those projects happened five or so years ago. Even the defiantly foreboding themes of life’s extinction and annihilation by our own hands, such as in the lyrics of “An Ordinary Extinction” and the singles “Meteor” and “Animal,” are a carbon copy of Bring Me The Horizon’s 2020 concept album POST HUMAN: SURVIVAL HORROR. Architects are positioned as a cliche within a cliche.
Frankly, there isn’t much to write home about, since Architects don’t make it easy on the listener at all (I know, I know, “metal’s not supposed to be easy to listen to!!!!”; but this is really something else). In the 58-minute runtime, the modern/pop/Nordstrom Rack sound is speckled with extremely cringe-y, edge-lord bro vocals (that are admittedly commendable in their versatility). Sam Carter really is able to alternate between harsh and clean vox rather fluidly, showing off both styles in songs like “Libertine,” “Dying Is Absolutely Safe” and “Impermanence,” which features a rather crunchy breakdown. But there just isn’t anything of any worth that is able to save the album as a whole, unfortunately.
Look, there’s no hatred For Those That Wish To Exist, none for Architects and not even any for djent! However, in being an extremely fervent believer in progressing music forward, there are a lot of frustrations and issues here. No amount of Parkway Drive member features can make a generic project sound new. Just like how no amount of Pro Tools symphonic string samples and cool synthesizer sounds will make one sound fresh. Solid songwriting will never be scoffed at, but there is almost none, if any, of that here. Yet, that’s not even the biggest sin. The absolute biggest qualm is that it’s just so damn boring. With the runtime actually working against its favor on top of an extremely drab selection of half-assed songs, it just becomes utterly impossible to keep the listener, or at least any self-respecting fan of passionate art, from remembering or wanting to remember these songs ever again.