Architects take us to Hell and back @ Cardiff Motorpoint

A review of my first ever Architects show at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

It’s 6:30pm, on a rainy and cold January evening as a line forms outside of the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena. The anticipation for the night’s show was building inside of me. It had been a few months since I had booked the tickets for my first ever Architects show and finally the time had come.

Unless you haven’t been into the metalcore scene, or switched on BBC Radio 1, then the name Architects could’ve completely passed you by (which is a crying shame).

To mark the release of their latest album Holy Hell (November 2018), the Brighton band announced a set of shows, playing the largest venues on their own headline tour to date. Considering the band have been performing together (in some sort of iteration, which I will touch upon shortly) for over 10 years, it is amazing to see such homegrown music reach such heights of recognition.

The first support act to hit the stage was Australian-born band Polaris, a band that I can honestly say I have never come across before, and what a treat that was. It isn’t often that I find the opening act to be one of the highlights of the evening but they owned the stage. Opening with ‘The Remedy’ off their album The Mortal Coil (2017), they get the crowd moving almost instantly. It is clear they have a large number of fans in the crowd as the mosh pit opens. The heavy growls emitted from lead singer Jamie Hails are awe-inspiring as he jumps around the stage with the energy of a Energizer rabbit. Just before they leave the stage they thank the crowd and the main act themselves for the chance to play to 7,500 capacity venue. I think Polaris now have a new fan!

After a quick cigarette and toilet break my friend and I push our way back to the front to watch the second act Beartooth. Now, I don’t wish to dwell or rant too long about the next act, but I can safely say I was not one of the (albeit many) people that enjoyed the next set to come. With Beartooth I can say yet again that I knew little about them, I had never heard any of their music and after the show I probably won’t listen to them again.

The Ohio hardcore punk rockers are brash, fast and rough (none of these things meant as an insult). Playing a selection of old tracks and new from their recent album Disease (September 2018), they cater to their instantly- noticeable fanbase in the crowd, most of whom are belting the lyrics back at the stage, mainly due to lead singer Caleb Shomo’s request for assistance (he obviously was feeling a bit worse for wear) but after hearing his vocal styling that is no surprise, bear by name and bear by nature it seems. Whilst I didn’t enjoy the set I can really appreciate their stage presence and how they appeal to their fans, I was just not included in that statement. The set continues then finishes in due fashion, at this point I am just aching for Architects to hit centre stage.

Now in preparation for the show I had been listening to Architects latest album for a few weeks (actually since it came out) just so I knew what to expect from the setlist. What I didn’t know is that nothing and I mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING could prepare me for what was about to happen.

The lights went down and a plethora of white lights spread across the crowd and illuminating the stage with a brilliant glow as the synth notes which start the opening track off the album ‘Death Is Not Defeat’ trickle out the speakers. Then it happens, vocalist Sam Carter, dummer Dan Searle, guitarists Josh Middleton and Adam Christianson and bassists and keyboardist Alex Dean appear from the sidelines and take their place and drop straight into the powerful introductory song. Without missing a beat they transition into one of my favourites off Holy Hell (one of the many reasons why I bought tickets as soon as I did) Modern Misery. 

Before I continue talking about the incredible setlist I must give special mention to whomever designed the light show, visuals projected behind the band and the incredible use of pyrotechnics and smoke machines. It is one thing to enjoy what you are listening to, but to be accompanied but such visual artistry is nothing short of genius. It’s like pairing gins and tonics, one misstep and it could be a disaster, but done right it is refreshing, tasty and enjoyable. So well done everyone who has worked on this tour, you are heroes.

As with some of my favourite bands such as Enter Shikari, King Blues et al, it wouldn’t be a gig without some great fan service. This can be done in many ways like meeting people before the show, getting close to the crowd or even something as simple as playing some old favourites from an expansive back catalogue. As Architects have quite a discography in their wake it wouldn’t be right to just play from the new album. So when classics such as Naysayer and Gravedigger commence, the moshers (including my friend Matt) decided it was their time, throwing each other around like some sort of animalistic game of pass the parcel. I settled with standing and just embracing the amazing scene in front of me (also I bruise like a peach).

Throughout the set vocalist Sam Carter takes the time to engage with the crowd, thanking each and everyone person for coming and making the band what they are today, quite a humbling moment considering they played the same venue when supporting American band A Day To Remember only five years ago.

It isn’t until after the penultimate song of the night when the frontman takes the time to talk about why the band are where they find themselves now.

Anyone who reads BBC News, follows the band or has any interest in the music world would know that three years ago they lost not only a band member but a brother to drummer Dan, Tom Searle. The fallen comrade, who was responsible for writing a lot of the band’s material, lost his battle with cancer at the young age of 28. His battle was reflected in their work, the concept of morality was a large part of the 2016 record All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, and the loss which carried over into Holy Hell, written by Dan.

It is a powerful and emotional moment as Sam thanks each and every member of Architects for everything they have done over the past couple years, for everything they have been through together and more importantly for where they are now. It is touching to see such earnest appreciation of his bandmates, or family in a more realistic sense. But what’s more is that his appreciation of the support the band has received from its fans shines bright. The gratitude for keeping the UK metal scene alive by buying albums, going to shows or even buying merchandise. With some acts this could be seen as self-indulgence, but at this moment it is nothing more than beautiful.

When all is said and done the band finish their set with the ever-powerful Doomsday, a song that has been played on BBC Radio 1 countless times since its release, and one that fully captures the place Architects was with the loss of their brother and friend.

It is with great sadness I call this my first Architects show, as it means I will never get the chance to see Tom play, but with optimism I can safely say this definitely will not be my last time seeing them.

Truly remarkable.

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