UK’s Architects build wall of emotional sound

The crowd moshed, headbanged and crowdsurfed throughout the performance.

By James Firkins

Metalcore tore through a night of an unsuspecting neighborhood in the Near West Side of Chicago on March 9at the Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake St.

Architects is a Metalcore band from Brighton, England, that has been creating an abrasive but somehow accessible blend of harmony and uncompromising riffs over the course of its seven studio albums spanning more than 12 years.

Its latest album—All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us—is difficult to listen to, but for another reason. Tom Searle, the guitarist and twin brother of drummer Dan Searle, died of cancer Aug. 20, 2016, at the age of 28. He had been living with the disease for more than three years, according to an Aug. 21 post on Facebook by his brother Dan.

The new album, released May 27, 2016, is the first to feature Adam Christianson—the band’s touring guitarist—and the last to feature material from Searle. It was important to fulfilllingthe promise of touring the new album, and to do so with bands that have helped the group tour the world.

The venue was appropriate for the band. A trendy place complete with pinball machines, a decent selection of beverages and food .and a modest-sized stage, The Bottom Lounge  feels like a standard metal bar except that it is clean–a great place to host international bands.

The first of the support acts of the night was Make Them Suffer—a six-piece grouphailing from Perth, Australia. The band was energetic and exhibited a frenetic and heavy style reminiscent of early Killswitch Engage records.

The second to play was Stray from the Path, a four-piece bandformed in Long Island, New York, which performed an unmistakable sound influenced by the ’90s Nu-metal, rap-metal and New York Hardcore scenes.

The crowd—a sea of plaid shirts, stretched ears, tattoos, shaved heads and dreadlocks—clearly enjoyed the openingacts and responded with enthusiasm to both performances, displaying heart and a cathartic aggression.

Metalcore music is intrinsically anti-Patriarchal. The genre’s lyrics explore strong emotional content, while the music displays a hypermasculinity that is arguably a pastiche of the expectations put upon young males.

The crowd was far from tired when the lights dimmed and a backing track began to play as the five members of Architects walked onstage to loud, ecstatic cheering. The fans had been waiting for this show since 2016.

Throughout the show, the guitarists switchedbetween several 7-string guitars and 5-string basses and played through large MESA Engineering amps that helped to cement a strong wall of frenetic sound. Considering the brutal passion and intense effort, Architects never faltered in its delivery and fed on the crowd’s energy. It was a raw performance, clearly coming from a place of incredible emotion.

Vocalist Sam Carter mentioned the band’s first U.S. tour in 2008 with Stray from the Path, before saying that it was “such an honor to have sold out Chicago.” The band then left the stage amid cheering and finally shouts for an encore. When the band returned, the vocalist asked the room for silence in order to pay tribute to Searle, saying he was “one of the most incredibly beautiful people,” and he changed the lives of everyone he met.

The crowd began to chant the fallen member’s name before Carter went on to say, just before the final song, “Every night on tour, we effectively open [Tom’s] diary by playing his songs.”