Photographs and article by Mason Smith contributing for f28 Music Media
Architects blazed through Philly last month, on the final week of their US HOLY HELL tour. The UK metal-core giants brought a massive bill, with support from Aussie death-core band Thy Art is Murder and their countrymen in While She Sleeps. As there were several festival dates on this tour, I was expecting an absolutely massive stage show- and Architects never dissapoint.
While She Sleeps hit the ground running, their hectic atmosphere whipping the crowd into a frenzy early. Their admittedly short set boasted the confidence of a headliner, and vocalist Lawrence Taylor’s frenetic energy made the show feel extremely intimate. Their set featured primarily songs from the band’s 2017 album You Are We, as well as The Guilty Party off of their latest record, So What? (2019). Their contagious vibe is unerringly consistent from show to show, and the enthusiasm and passion they exude onstage is truly memorable. They set the bar high to begin the night, and set the stage for a wild night of metal.
Next up, aussie deathcore titans Thy Art is Murder took the stage. The ambience was tangibly darker from the onset, as smoke billowed out onto the stage. Vocalist CJ McMahon emerged from the haze with a haunting, hooded stare out into the audience before launching into their performance. As this was primarily a metalcore bill, TAIM stood out stylistically-but that didn’t seem to faze the crowd in the slightest. The only words you need to describe their music and live show are dark, evil, and crushingly heavy- and the raucous crowd responded in kind with wild circle pitting the entire set through. Fan-favourite tracks littered the 45 minute setlist, including Holy War, The Purest Strain of Hate and Reign of Darkness. As the final cacophonous notes of their final track rang out, the anticipation was palpable- Architects had finally arrived.
While some bands do succeed in making a venue seem larger than life, nobody does that better than Architects in today’s metal scene. From their massively successful UK arena tour (headlining historic venues like Alexandria Palace to boot) to festival stages all across Europe, they’re no strangers to huge production value. That was no different on this tour, and I could tell from the onset. a massive banner reminiscent of their latest album covers spanned the stage, and multiple levels of lights and backing strobes flickered as the intermission wore on. As the first notes to Death Is Not Defeat faded in, I knew immediately this was going to be a special performance. Lights streamed through fog, focusing on Vocalist Sam Carter alone on the stage with a somber, orchestral ambience. His signature abrasive voice cut through the calm, building the intensity to a breaking point before launching into the mayhem of the set.
The performance that followed was one of the most emotionally charged, perfectly executed and almost theatrical sets I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing live. Primarily focusing on the previous two albums, All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us and Holy Hell, the night felt like a celebration of catharsis for everyone present. Every song dripped with emotion- rage, pain, sadness, longing, but also hope. The two records on which this setlist focused chronicled the death of guitarist and primary songwriter Tom Searle in 2016 from cancer, his own perspective as well as the immediate emotional fallout from those he left behind- and that rawness was palpable in every track. Carter has said before that “(Architects) keeps Tom’s music alive”, and you can feel the melancholy and grief permeating the entire performance. The band ripped through older hits such as These Colours Don’t Run and Naysayer, as well as the furious, heavily punk-inspired Nihilist, before closing the main set with a track off of Holy Hell. Hereafter brought a sense of closure, of acceptance in the midst of despair- I’ve always thought this song had a distinct air of finality, and it was a perfect end to the main show. The epic, spacious chorus created an almost cinematic ambience, an air perfect for the incredibly heartfelt and crushing encore to follow.
As the band returned to the stage one final time, everyone in attendance knew what was next. The pair of tracks- Gone With The Wind and Doomsday- act as a dualistic ode to Tom Searle, from both his own perspective and that of his brother, drummer Dan Searle. The gravity of the band’s message was never as apparent as in the intro lines of GWTW:
The weight of my world is resting on thin ice
When the surface breaks, will I find paradise?
When I’m facing death, left to reflect,
What a waste of time I was in retrospect.
It was then that it really hit me- these were the words of a man who knew he was dying, facing a reality we all have to come to terms with but far too soon. In all my years of going to concerts, the outpouring of of support and love and energy has never been so real as during that song. The heartbreaking bridge that stops the aggression feels like a glimpse into the fear and uncertainty of imminent death, and I’ll admit with no shame it made me cry. As the song that felt like Tom’s goodbye faded, Doomsday began, and for the strangest reason it felt like almost a celebration. I said it was a dualistic encore- sadness in loss and joy in remembrance- and the overwhelming positivism I experienced was so infectious, genuine and heartfelt. As if everyone was letting go of their own pain, the room felt like one cathartic, chaotic outpouring of loss, but twisted into a positive and joyful experience in a way. I’ve never witnessed anything at a show that moved me so significantly, and the connection that Architects creates with their fans is truly unforgettable.
If you like metalcore and you haven’t seen this band, what are you waiting for? The band is currently on a festival/arena tour across the EU and UK, check dates and get tickets below.
Article by Mason Smith
Contributing photographer for f28 Music Media
Pictures by Mason Smith
Pick up their 2018 album “Holy Hell” by clicking the link below!
1."Death Is Not Defeat"3:45
3."Mortal After All"3:39
8."Dying to Heal"3:50
9."The Seventh Circle"1:48
11."A Wasted Hymn"