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Architects - "Hollow Crown" (CD)

Architects - "Hollow Crown" CD cover image

"Hollow Crown" track listing:

1. Early Grave (3:32)
2. Dethroned (3:07)
3. Numbers Count for Nothing (3:50)
4. Follow the Water (3:41)
5. In Elegance (4:17)
6. We’re All Alone (3:01)
7. Borrowed Time (2:30)
8. Every Last Breath (3:29)
9. One of These Days (2:34)
10. Dead March (3:47)
11. Left With a Last Minute (2:58)
12. Hollow Crown (4:25)

Reviewed by on July 15, 2009

"Architects do not measure up because they never push out of their comfort zone. "

The band Architects (note the absence of “The”– that is an entirely different band), is a metalcore band that has gotten some good press on their first two full-length albums. Their third “Hollow Crown” is more of a disappointment than an improvement. While the band began their careers with more of a focus on math metal they have moved toward the center of popular metal on “Hollow Crown,” and have emphasized the wrong things in the process.

The album is filled with pretty standard metalcore; sludgy but not particularly down-tuned guitars, a bass line that is more groovy than heavy, and alternating screamed and clean vocals. Coming from the more technical end of metal, Architects easily have metalcore down. “Follow the Water” is a perfect example. The first half of the song has a syncopated punk-influenced guitar riff and vocalist Sam Carter’s screaming. The song alternates between more melodic rock sections and the staccato punk sections. Layers overlap, and the song shifts sections abruptly. Toward the end the whole thing changes, as a simple guitar melody over a turntable sample leads to a breakdown. This final section now has Carter’s clean vocals leading some gang backup singing, and the guitar melody is fully fleshed out. The song fades out dramatically.

The major problem with the album is that Architects haven’t done anything particularly interesting. The breakdowns are meaty and fierce, the songs are tightly written with little filler, and the band incorporates sound effects well, but there are other bands that have done all these things better. Architects do not measure up because they never push out of their comfort zone. Each song has every metalcore element, but nothing else – no violins, no death metal growls, no DJ – just the metalcore. Each song is not missing any metalcore element either. Each has a breakdown, screams and clean vocals, drum sections featuring the snare and drums fills, distorted guitars, and a haunting guitar melody. The songs are more checklists than anything else.

This dedication to the comfort zone continues to the individuals as well. Vocalist Sam Carter lashes his throat with the same impassioned, high-pitched screaming unless he is belting out his single note of clean vocals. Guitarists Tom Searle and Tim HB stick to the pattern of heavy distortion and punk-styled riffs layered with a little melody on top. Drummer Dan Searle would be lost without his snare. Ali Dean’s bass is the only offer of variation, with both groove-styled lines and more hardcore straight riffs and chords. The highlight of the entire album is the bass groove on the first song “Early Grave.”

Ultimately the album gets old, as the clear energy and dedication of the band can’t make up for the lack of emotional or musical adventuring. On Architects’ future fourth album a return to the math-styled metal would be welcome, as it would allow them to explore and branch out more in an intellectual way. Their lack of emotional variation and vulnerability are laid bare once the technical elements are stripped away from their music. And unfortunately if you don’t have one, you need the other.

Highs: The bass playing is strong throughout.

Lows: The screaming and snare are overdone.

Bottom line: The band does not have the emotional complexity necessary to pull off this kind of effort.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)