make up a collective group of acts that pull in a huge young cult fan base devoted to their own brand of bellicose screaming and seemingly incoherent structure of music, regardless of the critical triumphs or trolling they receive. Previous studio outing Hollow Crown brought forth the all too expected beat-up-venue-like extremity of guttural guitars and vicious vocals that (from personal experience) do not go down well with mothers when blasted through a house lacking in tenants with tribal tattoos and drop dead clothing, yet added a bit of clean pipeage and melodic numbers to all the chaos. Now, fourth album The Here and Now pretty much continues this trend, with a bit more of each extreme here and there, a couple of guest vocalists and some solid song writing, though maybe it’s a little too much more of a good thing.
Opening track Day In Day Out is honestly pretty freaking sweet (like…good…not sugar coated obviously), mixing up a progressively pounding yet addicting drum beat and varied guitar with a clear cross of improved clean vocals and the standard crooning, the latter duo continuing throughout the rest of the album, ultimately setting the standard for the most of the tracks to follow…which is good; the sound is emotionally driven and unpredictable in all departments, but nothing really deviates from this, with the first song and single weirdly being the epitome of what’s to come. Getting a fix on some of the earlier tracks is difficult when they really don’t have much of an identity of their own, though such moments as the melancholic chorus to Learn To Live, erratically excellent guitar riff for Delete, Rewind and last minute of BTN at least being pretty good.
An Open Letter To Myself is perfectly placed and really powerful song to boot, incorporating song lyrics written and sung with Sam Carter’s very personality behind them. As well as being a relieving reprieve from the near endless onslaught that has dominated to the record up to this point, the drop back into harsh vocals and instrumental work is eased in through a great build up throughout the piece, making it one of the more standout numbers within the track list.
The rollercoaster’s slow climb back up before its descent into the traditional Architects wild anarchistic style is moved smoothly with track six The Blues, a piece that truly shows off the mathcore bindings that keep everything, outside of the bands previous work, unique. Things grow tiresome again however with following tracks Red Eyes and Stay Young Forever seemingly labouring the point, yet not accomplishing much resonance within the listener, remaining loud and frantic without real cause.
Second slower song Heartburn acts like a reprise of track five but without being the same breath of fresh air; a by-the-numbers laid back anthem that reeks of generic lyrics and instrumental work that feels throttled by the slow pace at which the song moves and never takes off from, shame because as the 5th song (and others in the discography) proved was that even though this band is so hell bent on being hell bent they are more than capable of successfully toning down for the entire song duration so…what the hell was this?
Where things do get interesting though is the addition of featured vocals from Andrew Neufeld (in Stay Young Forever) and Greg Fuciato (within the final track Year in Year Out/Up and Away) from respective melodic hardcore and thrashcore groups Comeback Kid and The Dillinger Escape Plan. Puciato in particular bakes his contributed song in badass, dropping the downbeat another notch as his meshed death growl really syncs up well with the instrumentation and the contrasting snarl-free singing, though the inclusion of well known ‘screamalists’ feels less an encouraged partnership and more to add nobility to a record at risk of easily being forgotten.
Architects knack for lyricism with a negative uplift remains strong, criticizing that which surrounds them whilst attempting to rouse change and non-conformity alongside making something for yourself, and whilst it’s plagued by clichéd lines that feel vapid in and totally at odds with the tone of the actual music, instances of striking sentences pop out here and there, like in Delete, Rewind; “Because they’re forcing us to believe in a world we shouldn’t trust, delete, rewind and try to change this state of mind”, which sounds great on the track but it falls into that old trap of condemning without backing your distrust with reasoning. Still as mentioned where song writing feels strongest is in Open Letter to Myself, that kind of song that drives a listener mad trying to uncover the truth and hidden tale behind its origin, yet the ambiguity behind its story telling helping to make it that much more memorable.
It should be noted that The Here and Now has been on the internet long before it’s official release, so whether or not you want to be told whether it’s any good or not is irrelevant…since you probably already decided that long ago. To make it clear, things have improved from previous releases at least in ability, but structurally it’s a vapid album which will no doubt make great live performances due to the accustomed energy behind it, but unless listened to its entirety there’s really nothing noteworthy and will only make its mark in the present, not to be looked back on as an album from there and then.