Date: Saturday 20th November 2020
Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London
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With 2020 still putting us all through the rigors of no live music, it has really fallen on bands to try and bridge the gap with streaming events. With Festivals like Five4Five Fest and Pulse of the Maggots pulling increased levels of production out to offer the viewer the best experience possible, tonight marked one of the first solo headline streams as Architects took to the stage at an empty Royal Albert Hall to show everyone else just how it could be done. Famed for their live show already and with the release of new track ‘Animal’, a simple glance on twitter in the run up to this cemented the fact that there were a lot of people looking forward to the event and how Architects were going to pull it off!
After a short intro of panning shots of an empty Royal Albert Hall and the band taking to their stage setup, the break through of opening vocals from ‘Nihilist’ really set the tone for what was coming from the rest of the night! With Sam’s vocals sounding incredible from the very beginning it was clear the levels of production that had gone into this, an intense lighting rig and a huge LED screen filled the background. Each member of the band may have been seperate on their platforms but never have a group of people sounded so tight and in tune with each other.
‘Modern Misery’ was the next track to drop from 2018’s ‘Holy Hell’ and with Sam taking his place up with the rest of the band this somehow elevated the performance to almost live levels of show. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that by the time they reached the first chorus everyone was banging their heads at home. ‘Modern Misery’ also gave way to Sam’s cleaner vocals which seem to take on a whole new level of impressive each time they play. The swirling guitars and orchestral elements really completed the picture and gave such a full sound to the performance.
After a short introduction as a brand new song, they launched straight into the crushing ‘Discourse Is Dead’. With the release of ‘Animals’ causing some controversy for being “too light for Architects“, this almost felt like a fuck you to those speaking against the band. I used crushing to describe the track but I feel like that is an understatement. The band somehow manage to keep a similar sound from the Architects of old from the likes of ‘Daybreak’ but mix it perfectly to give a real sense of the evolution the band have gone on! I’m sure there’ll still be some comparisons to Bring Me The Horizon however at this point I think it’s definitely given as a compliment and I can’t wait for the track to be released so that I can have it spinning on repeat.
From the brand new back to an older track, the band then continued their streak of relentless songs with ‘Broken Cross’. Cementing their place with some of the best opening lines and breakdowns, the cries of “God only knows why we were born to burn” instantly took my head to watching this live and despite being sat on my sofa it felt so inclusive and full that I could feel myself stood in the front row watching them play. A song that, whilst I wasn’t the biggest fan of when it was released, has grown into a vital part of their set and would feel like an Architects gig without it.
The heaviness of ‘Broken Cross’ made for in incredible transition into the orchestral opening notes and clean introduction of ‘Death Is Not Defeat’. As the room went went red with the lights , Architects really showed the range that they can produce even with one track as the breakdown cries of “I will see you, Where oceans meet” making the fantastic contrast with the strings and choir like backing vocals of the songs outro. The whole performance gave chills down my back! I know I’ll say it a few times during this review but the sound was so all-encompassing and incredibly mixed that it was almost impossible to take my attention off the screen!
‘Royal Beggars’ continued this theme and as the camera panned round to each of the members it was clear that despite Sam’s vocals being at the front of everyone’s discussion, Ali, Adam, and Josh were all putting in an incredible shift with the layered guitar and bass tones sounding absolutely monstrous (yes that is a good thing!) And even from a single shot of drummer Dan, the sticks were flying through the air and landing perfectly on each hit creating an incredible background for the rest of the band to build up on top of. The mix really was amazing to hear and clear that the band had put in some solid hours to get everything perfect.
Speaking of perfect, up next for an early play was the massive ‘Gone With The Wind’. With such an emotional connection to the track across the entire Architects fan base after the passing of Guitarist Tom four years prior, the pure emotion be that aggression or sadness that comes along with the song really took on a new life! And to say that we were only half an hour in the tears started flowing almost instantly on hearing “Hope Is A Prison” screamed across the room. Whilst much heavier sounding than their recorded version, the energy put across by Sam’s vocals really kept the “live” feel of tonight’s show.
With not a moment to rest and keeping to similar theme’s, the band wasted no time in launching straight into ‘Mortal After All’ which took things in almost the opposite direction of feeling and shouts of “I guess we’re mortal after all” were enough to dry all the tears previously by the sheer amount of headbanging going on! The crushing riffs and breakdowns took on new life and I could only imagine the reaction that the two songs played back to back would have got in a live setting. If the chat was anything to go by, plenty of people were moshing along in their own rooms.
With the level of heaviness already at top notch the band continued their absolutely stellar set list with the only song that could have made it louder – ‘Gravedigger’. The familiar opening guitar line giving the fans an idea of what was coming before the track had even flashed up on the screen. ‘Gravedigger’ really showed how much of a sing along it could be whit the chorus taking on a whole high when compared to the lows of the chorus. The real range of Sam’s sceams was at the very front of this performance and boy they certainly weren’t disappointing in the slightest.
With thank you’s to everyone watching and the continued support from the fans over the last year while the band wrote their new album ‘For Those Who Wish To Exist’, the band played the second track in tonight’s set with the recently released ‘Animals’. One of the first things that struck me when I came out was how it had a sound that I felt would lend itself to being played live and sounding even better than the record, and with the opportunity to see this put to the test I can confirm that it really took on a whole new life. The electronic elements mixed with the heavy and dirty riffs made for an incredible soundscape and somehow Architects were on another level. This song alone could have summarised tonight show perfectly with just how much of a step up the band have taken with their new sound and given the standings of how incredible ‘Holy Hell’ was, this should give you an idea of just how good this was.
Speaking of ‘Holy Hell’ next up came the title track from their last album. When writing a setlist for this show it seems almost like the band could pick any tracks from their back catalogues and it would sound good. However, that being said the continuation of the electronic backing and the relentless feel of ‘Holy Hell’, the band flowed perfectly between the two and spiraling breakdown left no room for doubt that Architects had well and truly found their feet playing to the empty room of cameras. At this point it was just the band playing a full show and I’m sure I speak for everyone else when I say yet again that this was as close to a live performance as I think is possible given the current situation.
The band then broke out the second brand new song of the night in the unreleased ‘Dead Butterflies’ and from the very beginning it was clear that this was yet again bringing a completely different vibe to the new album than the anthemic ‘Animals’ or the crushing ‘Death Is Discourse’. With the lighter feel to verses leading perfectly into the chorus, the whole things was sounding epic. But by epic I mean like an epic in terms of scale and if there wasn’t any doubt before, this was almost a song that sounded like it had been written perfectly to fill arenas and stadiums. If I wasn’t already excited for the new albums then this certainly made my mind up for me and with the level of new tracks on this show so high. The countdown to February is going to be the longest few months!
After playing the brand new track it felt like there wasn’t many more surprises that Architects could bring to tonight’s show however as the band left the stage and made their way into an intimate acoustic session, the opening chords of ‘Memento Mori’ rang out and you could feel the collective gasps of everyone watching and realising what had happened. As the band played through the first live playthrough of the track, the close and circling camera movements really added to the feel and whereas before the band were filling the hall, this was like been sat next to them in a tiny room. The perfection of the acoustic guitars combined with Sam’s voice really was something special to behold and as the track faded out I don’t feel I’m wrong in saying that this was the part of tonight that I’ll be talking about for days to come.
Keeping to the acoustic set and the heavy emotional after a short break, the band went into ‘A Wasted Hymn’ which yet again took on a completely different feel with the acoustic guitar and the haunting piano keys really giving an incredible sound and a perfect platform to add even more emotion with the impeccable vocals shining through yet again. For proof that this band really can do everything, there is no better set than this to show it off and whilst and acoustic break at a gig is almost gimmicky at this point, Architects really made it work to the best it could have been and it was definitely a well deliver extension to the show rather than just a break away from the heavy.
As the band crossed the hour mark and into the final few tracks, there was little time to catch our breath back as the band launched into the fantastic ‘A Match Made In Heaven’. Any calmness and serenity from the previous ten minutes was instantly replaced with carnage and the thought of this being a combination that the band would be played live is really something to look forward to in the future. With the lights show blasting out across the hall and the huge white screen behind the band illuminating the whole building, the juxtaposition of the two tracks really added to the feel of just how incredible the band’s range is and how they can take you from one end of the spectrum to the other in only a matter of songs. Whilst saying that is all well and good I’m really struggling to find another band who can do it on quite the same level as Architects.
As the penultimate song kicked in with the building opening of “Hereafter” the band yet again jumped to show just how crazy things can go. The constant perfection and tightness of the entire band was something to behold and honestly by this point had become almost inspirational which to come from a live show should be taken as very high praise indeed! With the lights in the seats making almost a starry background for some of the shots, the real sense of the massiveness that the band have as back in show and built perfectly into tonight’s final track.
And what better way to end the show than with Tom’s final masterpiece – ‘Doomsday’. I’m not sure what I can say here other than everything I’ve written above. As final tracks go, they really don’t get much bigger than ‘Doomsday’ and the raw emotion coming off the stage from it had me back in tears for the third time in tonight’s hour and fifteen minute set. As I sat at home screaming along to the track it really showed just how much music impacts you and gives you the escape from the reality. The work that the band have out in over the last few years and all of the adversities and life changing events that they have come through are all out into perspective through this track and to use the work inspirational again, I feel even that would be underselling the impact that this band really have!
As Architects left the stage and the stream drew to a close with the upward panning camera the feeling matched perfectly with that of seeing a genuine live performance. As someone on twitter wrote just after the show – this is the best show that I’ve never been to! And honestly I couldn’t agree any more. The production levels, the sound levels, the bands performance, the setlist… Everything was done to such a high level and such perfection that there really was nothing that could be taken from the night as a negative and if this doesn’t show just what massive stage that the band are at currently and the even bigger potential of what’s still to come from them, then I’m not sure what you need to convince you! This is a band that have reached festival headline levels and as the future of British Metalcore this band deserve everything that they have worked so hard on!
As one final note to end the review on, from me and I’m sure pretty much all of your fans that have been following the band… Thank you, for everything!