Sound — 6
In the span of their decade-plus career, Architects went from building up a cult following early on with their style of tricky mathcore and heavy-hitting metalcore, to nearly losing it when they took on a more mainstream and fleeting post-hardcore sound in their fourth album, 2011's "The Here and Now," but frankly, the backlash response to the album was of the same over-reactive caliber as the response to Finch's "Say Hello to Sunshine"; revisiting the album, it's quite alright (doubly so if you're a fan of an Alexisonfire type of sound). Regardless, Architects' recent stretch of material has distanced themselves from that post-hardcore path, having repositioned themselves back on their original metalcore trail with their instrumentally adept, symphonic-tinged 2012 album, "Daybreaker," and then giving their metalcore sound a post-rock gloss in their 2014 album, "Lost Forever // Lost Together."
With their last couple of albums displaying the band's growing interest in the textural qualities that post-rock influences provide, Architects' seventh album, "All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us," ups that amount of influence significantly. With more post-rock breaks appearing in songs, there's more emphasis on juxtaposition in the band's songwriting, whether by contrasting their primary metal energy (like the frenetic riffing in "Deathwish" later parlaying into a serene bridge) or carrying contrasts within the section itself (like the contained but active drumming in the break of "Phantom Fear"). Along with that, Architects bank even more on tonal guitar layers that promote a more passive but integral melodic element to the band's sound (as opposed to the more upfront melodic qualities of "The Here and Now"), adding more dimension to the upbeat chugging rhythms of "Gravity" or the slogging breakdowns in "A Match Made in Heaven."
However, that post-rock staple of tonal guitar layers ends up doing about as much harm as good in "All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us." Where in some cases, those heapings of tonal layers end up being too overbearing in the mix (drowning out the lead guitar melody in "Gravity" and getting too noisy at the crest of "All Love Is Lost"), other cases show those tonal guitars trying to divert attention from the noticeably monotonous metal riffs in "Nihilist" and "Phantom Fear." And with every song on the album using those ample amounts of sirening guitar layers, it consequentially renders itself an element of perpetual droning, which grows more and more tedious as the album goes on - though Architects do themselves and the listener a favor by saving their best for last in the multi-faceted prog-metal closer "Memento Mori."
Lyrics — 7
With frontman Sam Carter's recent focus on scathing political criticism in his lyrics in the past couple of Architects albums, he's still managed to keep one hand gripped on a sense of hope that things can change. But if his line "Hope is a prison" in "Gone With the Wind" isn't enough of an indicator, Carter's lyrics in "All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us" at this point have become almost entirely depraved of that previous sense of hope. From his lyrics about the planet being unable to sustain us ("Our collapse will be remission / A planet scarred beyond all recognition" in "Deathwish"), our own humanity being unable to sustain itself ("No love, no empathy / Our fellow man is now our enemy" in "Phantom Fear"), or shooting down any consolation in salvation ("We're all dying to meet our maker / But all our gods have abandoned us" in "Nihilist"), Carter's observations this time around are dead-set in a FUBAR perspective, and though his unbridled pessimism keeps him from believing that change can truly turn things around, he still revels in overthrowing the corrupt elite just for the sake of dragging them down with the rest of the forsaken in "Downfall" and "Gravity."
Overall Impression — 7
Within the past several years, plenty of metal bands have adopted post-rock characteristics to augment their sound for more dimension, from Deftones and Underoath to The Contortionist and Northlane, and despite coming off more like a trend the more bands take the same stylistic turn, it does indeed work as a route to mature one's metal sound. But while Architects may have been tending to this post-rock turn in their metalcore sound for the past couple of albums, the post-rock inspirations strongly manifested in "All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us" hit critical mass, and the extraneous harping on those compositional characteristics ultimately comes off more like a crutch than a bona fide improvement.