In recent years, metalcore has become the butt of more than a few jokes from onlookers outside the scene. Once a truly underground and formidable genre, the music has now become more of a formulaic brand.
Slap together a deep growler with a high-pitched vocalist to man the chorus, add one pseudo-heavy breakdown per song, and throw in some video game programming for good measure to ensure a T-shirt slot on Hot Topic’s wall and a spot on the Monster Energy stage at Warped Tour.
Every so often though, something new and fresh comes along, serving as a gasp of air above the surface. The Devil Wears Prada’s 2011 album Dead Throne and last year’s Sempiternal from Bring Me the Horizon serve as recent examples, providing a dash of optimism amidst a tired landscape of lookalikes.
This year, hope comes in the form of Architects’ Lost Forever // Lost Together.
Hailing from England, Architects are not new to the scene. They made a mark with 2009’s ferocious Hollow Crown, but until this point, had failed to capitalize on their strengths. Lost Forever // Lost Together is a no holds barred crushing display of a band with something to prove, and even more importantly, something to say.
You may want to sit down for this one. Lost Forever // Lost Together will certainly make you want to move, but the weight of its content and its swirling artistic display forces you to pay close attention and catch every detail. At its core, the album is a furious battle against the gravity of existence – a desperate search for something, anything, to hold onto.
This desperation reigns on opener “Gravedigger”, a track that unleashes the full force of what Architects are capable of in a matter of minutes. Sam Carter’s vocals are simply awesome, transitioning between a guttural roar and a pleading delivery akin to letlive.’s Jason Aalon Butler as he sings, “They sing of saviours, we sing of sorrow / But we’re still holding on for dear life”.
The album’s lead single, “Naysayer”, is a perfect presentation of what metalcore could be. The track is heavy in all of the right ways and utilizes guitarist Tom Searle’s talent during its monstrous technical breakdowns. The song in and of itself is a fight against personal complacency, but can also serve as a battle cry for the genre. Carter will strike a chord with many an estranged fan as he cries “So sick of the sound of people giving up / You can’t stop me giving a fuck / Fuck it, I’m a dreamer and I’m dreaming on”.
The album winds down a distressing road, flirting with despair but finding hope in the most unexpected places. “Broken Cross” laments the pain wrought by fundamentalist religious mindsets, while on “C.A.N.C.E.R.”, Carter fights to push forward, screaming “Find a little light and hold it close / Don’t lose sight of what matters most”.
The weightiness of Carter’s lyrics align effortlessly with the overall sound and feel of the record. Lost Forever // Lost Together is as heavy of a record as you’ll hear this year, but it’s far from a one trick pony. “The Devil is Near” uses gang vocals over the top of a punk riff while “Colony Collapse” opens with a gentle string intro that serves as the calm before the storm. The track’s atmospheric synthesizers push the song to an epic level, accompanied by a haunting refrain from Carter.
“Red Hypergiant” is a dark, spacey interlude with scattered spoken word vocals, sounding like one of the best songs that Underoath never wrote. “The Distant Blue” tragically closes the story with a feeling of drifting out to sea. The opening melodic vocals are incredible as Carter comes to terms with his uncertainty and pain. Transitioning wildly between gentle and heavy, the track exits like a whispy final breath on top of a fading heartbeat-like pulse. As the music fades, it’s hard to know whether to cheer in triumph or collapse in tears.
Lost Forever // Lost Together excels on every level not only because it sets a new musical standard for the metalcore genre, but because it digs deep at all of the right nerves. The album is angry for the right reasons and is asking the right questions. In a scene that has embraced the most banal of subject matter, Architects have blown down the door with substantial material and a call to desire something more.
Perhaps this is all summed up best in “Castles in the Air”, a crushing defeat of a song with the most powerful breakdown on the album. Atop the music, Carter rails against the poisonous grip of addiction and hollow fulfillment with everything he has before painfully releasing the song’s final lines in the form of a quiet mumble. “I wasted time building castles in the air / If there’s peace to be found, I won’t find it there”.
This line sums up the album – a continual search for peace and meaning and a refusal to settle for less. With Lost Forever // Lost Together, Architects have built the new high water mark for the metalcore genre while reminding us all of the pitfalls of complacency and the importance of searching for something more. With any luck, this display will incite just enough fight in others to reclaim the heart and motive behind this music and move it forward once more.
by Kiel Hauck
Kiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.