Architects were second only to their buds, The Dillinger Escape Plan, as far as the Saturday night main stage line-up at Hevy Festival 2011 went – but are they ready to step up to the challenge? Has their much talked-about lurge towards “the mainstream” backfired? Tomas Doyle reviews…
Six things we learnt on watching Architects at Hevy Festival 2011
1) Architects are a popular band, very popular, you only need to look at the number of T-shirts and hoodies in the massive crowd they have drawn to tell you that. With four albums already under their belt at such a young age it is easy to forget that this is still a band who are developing and discovering. Iron Maiden they ain’t.
2) The sound is pretty ropey tonight on the Jägermeister stage and the complexities (particularly of Architects earlier work) are lost in the whirl of wind and muddy bottom end. This is a real shame because the combined guitar attack of Tim Hillier-Brook and Tom Searle has long been one of the most potent in UK tech metal but tonight they are reduced to a flat stomp and occasional rhythmic breakdown.
3) Hollow Crown is still Architects finest album and it is tracks from this record which are best received tonight. ‘Numbers count for Nothing’ and ‘In Elegance’ are riffy slabs of tech metal with delicious dashes of melody that would be hard to argue with in anyone’s hands, let alone those of the five bouncing Brightonians onstage.
Architects @ Hevy Festival 2011 c/o Ben Gibson
4) For all his energy and flailing blonde hair, Sam Carter’s voice isn’t up to scratch tonight – for a man so impressive on record his roar feels more like a neutered bark and his clean vocals, whilst a little better seem lacking in guts. The ballady ‘singing-heavy’ songs feel somewhat self indulgent and whilst everyone can appreciate a bands desire to move their sound forward the crowd seem to be urging the band back to heavier ways and respond with fire when the likes of ‘Early Grave’ are given an airing.
5) It is telling that the set highlight comes courtesy of an outside influence. The Dillinger Escape Plan’s rabble-rouser-in-chief, Greg Puciato, joins the band onstage to reprise his appearance on ‘Year In Year Out’ and egged on by a crowd who already had their suspicions that this collaboration was on the cards, the band give it their absolute all. A fitting tribute to a man who just an hour later would be showing everyone exactly how it’s done.
6) Architects are very much a band at a crossroad in their career and with the release of The Here and Now they have taken a very deliberate step towards a more ‘mainstream’ sound. Whatever that means in abstract existential terms is up for debate, what it means here tonight is that they seem to be struggling to recapture their old fire within the context of this new material. Admittedly they are hampered by technical issues but there was a time not so long ago when Architects looked ready to set not just the UK but the world on fire with their perfectly balanced blend of technical heaviness and hand on heart choruses – but on the Hevy Fest mainstage tonight they just look a bit average.