Having managed to steer clear of the majority of the singles to date, I was keen to take in Architects‘ ninth album as a whole. For Those That Wish To Exist begins poignantly with “Do You Dream Of Armageddon?”, where orchestral warmup sounds veer into butterfly-esque electronic sharpness. Sweeping and surrounding, it’s a huge and cascading moment that cements the hinted blend of orchestra and electronic. Strings flutter around, narrowly missed by the crushing beats, with the velvety vocals seeming to share warning of what’s ahead.
Far more solid then, “Black Lungs” stomps destructively with wide riffs and a moreish quality. The vocals are barely heard through the density of drums and guitar, making for a hard-to-breathe kind of experience which seems perfect for the song’s title. A breathless paring back transported me to “Damnation” from Holy Hell for a moment with its similarities, having the pre-chorus moment seem already done before. It’s beautiful nonetheless, asking questions of environmental care whilst strings plaintively swirl.
With pushing and driving qualities, forceful guitars and tag-team chants add urgency to “Black Lungs”, reinforcing the ‘time is running out’ factor when it comes to taking action for our planet’s sustainability. A spoken section at the bridge which climbs to a state of alarm is enthralling, but the breakdown isn’t cataclysmic enough somehow. The chorus is a winner for my ears; smoothed and fast moving, it’s a rapid-running stream of concern as to what we’re doing and a call for awareness. For me, the final exasperated punch lifts the entire song.
Third track “Giving Blood”‘s flaring riff makes it stand out as something different for the band, as does the tremulous rhythm through the verses. As a fan of unpredictability in songs, the momentary shift into something more swimmingly fluid than heart-racing anxiety has me sit up and pay closer attention.
After returning to where it began, the subsequent fall into a misty piano-focused moment with intimate vocals is almost disorienting, but quite beautiful. It’s moving, sparking emotion from me in its progressive climb in a place of ethereal openness. The line “Hopefully someone thinks of me in the aftermath” being called out almost broke me.
A crushing dive of “Woe is me” before the defiant return to the chorus takes “Giving Blood” full circle. I’m left feeling like it’s describing a metaphorical bleeding out – perhaps via music – and how this is taken in a convoluted way instead of how it’s intended (I could be way off though!). This is a track I intend to return to, if only to float around in its “Ooh”s and bared piano authenticity.
“Discourse Is Dead” heads down into Electro City, with static and fluttering before a Bring Me The Horizon-esque introduction riff. Steady of pace and erratic of rhythm, the song opens at the chorus, seeming tongue in cheek about conflicting opinions. The song unfortunately doesn’t do a lot for me, but the sense of colourful sparkling at the bridge feels good to be with, as does a warm and glittery orchestral iteration of the chorus. I feel like the song’s final moments that strike with a breakdown will warm diehard Architects-fans’ hearts.
It’s already becoming obvious that I’m a sucker for the orchestral theatrics on this album. Listening to “Dead Butterflies” has trumpet calls seeming to cry out in farewell and strings bleeding emotion. Where my ears would typically go most directly to the vocals, I find them looking around and marveling at all that’s going on in “Dead Butterflies”; such as the bass of the second verse, the piano melody, and the left ear riffage.
More collected at the chorus, the cry of “Goodbye” kicks off an ocean-like gliding, coasting resolutely through the waves. Despite the track being musically soaring and stunning, I was hoping to feel more emotionally resonant than I did with a song called “Dead Butterflies”. The metaphor or message just didn’t hit home for some reason.
Back in Different Land again, tumultuous drums leading into the chorus of “An Ordinary Extinction”, feels.. okay, but there’s an element of already knowing the song structure and how it’ll go, punctuated by pinches and zips. I do appreciate the effort and how far they’ve leaned into electronically dense metalcore. I’m also loving the layers, floatiness, and soundscape created at the bridge, and how this seeps outward. To me, it sounds so great that it feels like a lost opportunity to play more with this throughout the song. But I have full empathy with a well-established band trying to appease their long-standing fans while also exploring new territory and musically developing.
Dark and brooding, marching and stomping at first, “Impermanence” has unexpected empty ethereal spaces which maybe should have been used to reinforce that darkened atmosphere. By way of volume and intensity, the track seemed a bit all over the place, and not in a favourable way. I couldn’t hook into either the darkness or the lightness being presented here. With this, it made the vocal feature by Winston McCall of Parkway Drive come across as ill-fitting with the rest of the song – far more fierce and vitriolic. Having said this, the layers and orchestral build-up through to the end did feel good.
Flexing the most whispery, dreamy ethereal mood on the album so far, I feel like “Flight Without Feathers” comes across as the most ‘at home’ for the present version of Architects, despite it sounding remarkably different for them. Almost pop-like, the light and floating track floods and seeps outwards, the vocal tendrils being the most graspable element. I’m a fan of what the track inspires within my lungs – almost the inverse of “Black Lungs” – and how much of a release it seems. Monotonous and ghostly, there’s no fight or force to be found in this song.
“Everything is fine”
The same steady and light vocal style continues into “Little Wonder”, but comes with a racing beat and the solid grounding of percussion and full-bodied choruses. The arrival of Mike Kerr’s (Royal Blood) velvety voice put a smile on my face, completely adding a new energy and vibrance to the listening experience. Zorby chords and the repetition of “everything is fine” and evenly paced vocal rhythms works well leading into a breakdown, but I honestly found it hard to maintain focus and interest in the song as a whole.
Back to stomping aggression with “Animals”, the flow to the album to this point feels a little up and down, deliberate or not. I wrote about the track when released previously as a single, finding that the “bleak seriousness of a dire situation is doubled down by every element of the band, giving an uncomfortable sense of time running out”. Dark and eerie, the melody of the verses is appealing to me, as is the whispered “life is just a dream within a”, the literal alarms, and the crushing and blatant breakdown. In the context of the album, it’s solid, but is blunt and unchallenging, intended or not.
By the time I hit “Libertine”, I wondered if Architects were going different-normal-different-normal when it came to their sound. Hollowed out and futuristic, “We are the rust worshipping the rain” hangs poignantly, and the song sinks into a rush of information. As a microscopic lens over humanity, again (like “Giving Blood”) this track shines for me when it steps sideways into a glistening and misty silhouetted moment of reflection.
Ripped into a rainstorm of “Whoa-ohh” vocalising which morphs into static, the song suggests the concept of aspirational growth that is damaging or corrupting. In contrast to this, the reflective and quieter moments feel like talking to oneself in the mirror, and working out how to be one’s best self without detriment. The call out of “I’m trying” hits for me for this reason, feeling like a genuine outburst of exasperation. It’s very interesting seeing Architects explore ideas that aren’t as earth-shattering as the life and death concepts of Holy Hell, resulting in sonically more subtle moments too, I feel.
But there’s still ‘bigness’ here too. Stuttering and wild, “Goliath” throws fists and bounces around at first, before a more flamboyant and optimistic chorus. The track oozes conflict (which I probably could have predicted based on the title, hey?) and flares out along the way as it progresses. As solid and fiery as it is, it’s another track where I wanted to feel more than I felt.
“A glass half empty is more than I’ll ever have”
I got my wish with “Demi God”, internally swooning within seconds, adoring its sweeping melody from the start. With its paring back at the verses felt like I’d been cheated, happily adoring it when the melody appeared again. I found myself distracted and losing focus with this track, wishing it felt more unified and smooth.
When vocals, piano, and strings reiterate the same notes at the midway point, it’s incredibly satisfying, as is the sweet lyric “I must’ve forgot, I’m a demi God”. Regardless of any criticism, I fall in love with “Demi God”, especially when rumbling percussion joins in and the dreamy sweeping instrumentation returns. With just a humble voice after this majesty, I’m left swimming in feelings. Thank you, yes.
My experience of “Meteor” was via the music video, which had the imagery bolstering the song’s emotion… or maybe I’m just emotional putty at this point. Either way, the “what are we doing?!” self-reflection in a state of emergency was obvious to me, and made its point clearly with lyrical metaphor, urgent vocals and pace.
Coming to “Dying Is Absolutely Safe”, I was wowed within moments, not expecting the final track to sound as it did. Delicate and blooming with an acoustic grounding, “Dying Is Absolutely Safe” is so open and compassionate. Threads to songs before it gave it a homely, familiar feeling. Inspiring more crying from me, the wide open sharing via vocals before majestic triumphant instrumentation and collective voices is frankly emotionally ruining. This is a stunning way to finish an album.
Despite this beautiful finish, I’m still left with the sense of there being hits and misses when it comes to For Those That Wish To Exist. For me, the major hits are the unflinching, heart-bared shares, and the heavy leans into the more experimental sounds. Fifteen tracks is a full serve of music, and this may mean that fans who’d much prefer their more familiar/signature sound will be sated alongside those hungry for newness.
Architects are in a different world to where they were with Holy Hell, and I enjoy the hopeful aftertaste that’s here, despite touching on doomy elements of humanity. Hearing the band playing around in unexpected soundscapes was a pleasant surprise and it excites me to find this freshness in a band’s ninth album. This isn’t a band that’s tired or done by any means.
Sounding this fresh on your ninth album is a significant achievement. Big fan of the dreamy opportunities to float away with Architects.
Some jarring moments of volume shifts along the way, elements of sameness/predictability and simply not feeling drawn into the moment.