I know very little about J Pop. It’s quite popular among Swedish alternative kids (though, I might be behind since it seems like everyone’s all obsessed with South Korea now?) and I know that I can’t hear what they’re singing about (and that it makes me feel happy). But what I’ve heard is that in Japan there’s a new trend every quarter and that when that trend is done, the pop stars are done. They have a shelf-life of three months. No one takes them seriously and not a single person in the entire country would take them seriously as “artists” because, well, they’re not. They’re pop stars, engineered to sell music for kids obsessed with trends. Metal has trends, and really, people, it does, metalcore in the early 2000s was the coolest thing EVER and a bunch of bands who were all doing exactly the same thing got signed. But, of course, established labels are slow on the pick up of trends and so 4 years after the trend really started getting hot and relevant Century Media and Metal Blade started having bidding wars over metalcore bands. The year is 2011 and they’re stuck with these bands. And I can’t think of anyone who isn’t super fucking sick of this sound. But I sure as hell am. This sound had a shelf life of about.. oh, I dunno, 3 months. And it should’ve stayed there.
So, there you have it guys from the band, you probably should just skip reading the rest of this review.
For those of you who don’t know, Architects is a metalcore band from the UK who fancies themselves progressive (hahaha) and who are putting out their fourth album, and second for CM (third if you count their second record which was reissued by the label). However, contrary to their name, Architects aren’t designing anything worth building at all, instead they’re rehashing everything we’ve heard from the metalcore trend since it sprung in the early 2000s. Highly melodic guitar work, laden with clean vocals (that literally sound like every metalcore vocalist’s clean vocals ever! Where the hell do they find these guys? Or is it just like one studio vocalist who does all of this stuff?) and too many breakdowns and gang chants form the basis for what is supposed to be the band’s innovative attempt to re-imagine their metalcore past. Or, well, basically to sound like any other band in the genre: like new Soilwork with more breakdowns.
What’s interesting about The Here and Now is that the band shows off what I’ve always expected in a few places; the reason metalcore vocalists always sound like emo kids is because deep down they are emo kids! Here you can see that this stuff sounds like Bullet for My Valentine and Funeral for a Friend, but even wanders into lamer arenas when these guys are trying to be all deep (“An Open Letter to Myself”, “Red Eyes”). They stole The Postal Service‘s glitchy beats, and then pissed all over the style by sucking. Sure, some of these songs have moments that might be really cool (actually right after they rip off The Postal Service in “Red Eyes” they have a really awesome part that’s reminiscent of Cult of Luna that ruled), but the ultimate whole of this is irritating, boring and trite.
The one shining moment on this record is the production. While arguably over produced (like most modern records), I can say that the band has managed to avoid the production issues that have been plaguing metalcore since its induction. This is the first any-type-of-core record that I’ve heard in a long time with what I would consider to be good production. So three cheers for Steve Evetts for producing this record with a modicum of taste.
You’d think that being an Angry Metal Guy I’d not feel a little guilty when I pan a record like thisâ€”but I always do a little bit. I know that these dudes have dumped their time and lives into these records that they put out and that they’re all fighting for relevance in a world where it’s fucking hard to be a band. But this sound is about as far from relevance as it gets (or entertainment value at this point) and there is nothing on here that will appeal the intellect of anyone over the age of 14. Don’t buy the hype, this is not a reimagining of the band. This is just a band adding more emo to their metalcoreâ€”and both of those trends should have been dead 16 to 20 quarters ago.