February 22, 2021 Architects – For Those Who Wish To Exist (Album Review)
On the heels of their critically acclaimed eighth LP, Architects is set to release For Those That Wish To Exist on Friday, February 26, 2021 thanks to Epitaph Records. But there’s a divergence from 2018’s deeply personal Holy Hell, a collection that looked within, relating the pain and despair that lay at the heart of losing a brother, bandmate, and best friend in Tom Searle. Instead, their latest draws influence from the ‘big picture’ themes of 2012’s Daybreaker, taking a macro perspective that tackles important questions about our planet’s future.
Formed in Brighton, England, in 2004, Architects represent the uppermost echelon of what we’ll term Post-Metalcore. With the release of their debut album, 2006’s Nightmares, they laid a solid foundation for their steady rise. As they delivered seven more albums over the next decade, including 2009’s Hollow Crown, 2011’s The Here and Now, and 2016’s All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, their sincerity and dedication to their craft won the Brits a fanbase who remained loyal in the face of tragedy.
The loss of a brother is not something you simply dust off and walk away from, but Architects —Vocalist Sam Carter, Guitarist/Vocalist Josh Middleton, Guitarist Adam Christianson, Bassist Ali Dean, and Drummer/Lyricist Dan Searle—is prepared to begin a new chapter with the 15-song For Those Who Wish To Exist. Their ninth studio album is equally heavy to its forebears, but this time around the boys look beyond themselves—to our Earth. And the role that we each continue to play in her destruction, and the effect that this has on our daily lives, inspires a crushing paralysis throughout their latest.
But this concern is not something that is new to the band. Champions of causes such as Sea Shepherd, the quintet have long been outspoken critics against barbaric practices like fox hunting, and have placed a focus on sustainability in everything from their tour scheduling and production to their recently launched Architects Merch Co. This need to be better and do better can have a spiritual toll, however, and that is a topic that is also explored on For Those Who Wish To Exist. The place where this hope for the future and despondency for the end collides creates the molten core of the collection, one that is devastatingly powerful in sound and subject.
The insightful journey begins as Architects ease us in with the massive atmospherics of “Do You Dream of Armageddon?” At just under two minutes, the post-apocalyptic, cinematic feels ask you to ponder a question that will resonate throughout the entirety of For Those Who Wish To Exist. Then, to drive the point home, they explode into “Black Lungs” with an urgency and frustration that sucker punches listeners in the gut, demanding that they open their eyes to our plight. The message is clear: We are all to blame.
This is a theme that recurs throughout: the idea that we all bear the weight of humanity’s trespasses against Mother Earth. From the infectious, undulating melodies of “Giving Blood” to the condemning stomp of “Animals,” Architects speak with conviction as they present their case against our self-serving ignorance and apathy. It is an issue that affects more than just the physical planet, but also the spirits of those who wish to exist here. Take the quasi-ballad “Dead Butterflies,” for example, a track that the band debuted in 2020 at Royal Albert Hall. A billowing emotionality that drowns the soul, it mirrors the desperate struggle that many of us face in trying to chase happiness in a world of suffering.
But Architects don’t squirm away from pointing out that bringing issues such as this to the table is highly frowned upon in our brave modern world. One of the most sonically blistering tracks on the LP, “Discourse Is Dead,” clearly addresses this topic, condemning a lack of common sense that feeds our inability to hold a civil discourse in 2021. Coupled with the apocalyptica of tracks like “An Ordinary Extinction,” “Impermanence” (which features Winston McCall of Parkway Drive), and “Meteor,” For Those Who Wish To Exist is dead set on peeling back the blinders and facing fate head on.
It is not all doom and gloom, however. There are chances for a respite, like a cleansing Synthpop moment with “Flight Without Feathers,” one that continues into rocker “Little Wonder.” Featuring Mike Kerr of Royal Blood, the latter offering might have all the seductive finesse of the pied piper, but this allure is used ironically as the band speak of sheep who would rather follow blindly than dare to lead. In a way, it foreshadows the enormously triumphant, soaring cinematics of the album’s grand finale, “Dying Is Absolutely Safe.”
What lies in between has moments of brutality (“Libertine”), harnessing hope in the face of imminent defeat (“Goliath,” which features Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro), and joyful electronic orchestration (“Demi God”). So while For Those Who Wish To Exist is incendiary, it’s careful to offer moments of prismatic sunshine, as well. Which is important on an LP that looks to the future, questioning what kind of a world, if any, our children’s children will inherit.
Self-searching introspection that leads to personal accountability, that in turn inspires both a paralyzing defeatism and an explosive hopefulness: this is what Architects have to offer their listeners on their ninth disc. To focus on any of the minutiae that form this haunting opus is to do a disservice to its greater picture: Architects do not waste their energy on art without purpose. Reflecting on the human condition through the lenses of despair and potential, the record is much like life: without concrete answers. And much like its predecessor, it is an experience that lingers with its listeners long after its last note has faded into the ether. For this, Cryptic Rock gives For Those Who Wish To Exist 5 of 5 stars. Will we ever learn our lesson?