Architects - Hollow Crown

Year of Release: 2009
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: CM 8515-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 41:10:00

Perhaps I have a particular bias, in that harsh metal like that on Architect's Hollow Crown CD isn't really my cup of tea. So why bother sharing my two-cents worth? Doesn't that bias make me unqualified to judge this? Well, no. Because I didn't go into this with any preconceptions of whether I would or would not like it; it just turns out that way. Plus, there's a bit of fascination with it I suppose - like the car wreck you don't really want to look at, but on the other hand? you can't resist looking because want to know what happened. Or, going where you shouldn't just for the thrill. Basically, what I hear is -- well, in metal parlance: bone crushing guitars and drums, and shredding vocals. What it sounds like is a lot of marching, stomping guitars and hysterically screaming vocals. He needs to be restrained before he hurts someone? or himself.

See, the vocals aren't bad, as such; I mean ? he's got an angry, harsh and violent scream, but? I find much more interest in the work when he's NOT screaming. I mean, there's more power to it if the screams are the climax, the culmination of a growing rage. If you start out at full belt, you have no where to go.

On the other hand, if you like scream therapy and want something to scream along with to release all that pent up anguish ? well, add Hollow Crown to the list.

Nevertheless, there are a few spots where this is levened by more normal vocals, which sound quite good (e.g., the plaintive singing on "Hollow Crown," which ends the album - great track, at least comparitively speaking). So, it's not that he can't sing and he's hiding it by tearing his vocals chords to shreds? Man, if Stevie Nicks, Fish - just to name two that come to mind - had have throat surgery for polyps, developed from singing, imagine what this fellas' going to encounter?

There are brief moments of "musicality" - choruses, melodies, that are "clean." But, I won't fool you into thinking that if you like Yes' harmonies, you'll find something here. No, I'm afraid, you won't. You'll wish rather it was 12 tracks like "Hollow Crown," however. Alright, I'll stop harping on the vocals, what about the rest of it?

It's pure agression, like when you totally lose it and start throwing furniture around haphazardly? well, hazardly, actually, as, like your mama always says, "you could put an eye out doing that." It is the soundtrack to your mass shooting - though I'm not suggesting anyone do that. If you're planning to, however, take yourself out first, ok? But, you know, in the movies is what I mean. This is the kind of raw blast of bashing drums, razor-wire jagged distorted guitars, and, yes, ripped-throat yelling that would be the soundtrack to the carnage. It's angry and vengeful, savage and snarling. "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" Disaffected youth - angry at the adult establishment; raging out of mental imbalance ("One Of These Days," "Dead March")'; a general malaise? one can see a lot of those kind of themes here. And that whole darkness and cynical view of the world I can appreciate; I mean I get it, probably even feel it some degree. So I get the anger here.

But? I have to admit? I don't like this one bit. No, that's not entirely true? I like the rawness of it, but I do find that one piece sounds pretty much like the next. Oh, I'm sure if one were to look at the score, we'd see that the notes weren't exactly the same pattern, that the drums weren't assaulted in quite the same order or that the tom got three whacks in track A and 4 whacks in track B within the measure. I'm not going to actually do the charts for it - I don't think I could? I do detect differences from track to track; you probably guessed was being somewhat facetious saying otherwise, but since everything is so? right there, all subtlety is lost.

Do I have anything nice to say? I like the booklet - it's like a medieval manuscript. It's not overly decorated, but you do have richly illustrated capitals. But the text is too small ? and given the paucity of lyrics to each piece, it's not to save room. Though, looking closely, it's so that each line falls in the gaps between the ornate design on the page, which is subtle, but I see that it would be harder to read the letters against it if they were larger. And I do like, a bit, the later part of "Follow The Water." I mean, it's not great, but it's a little more toned down. Made me think of Linkin Park's "In The End" (the only song of theirs I know). And as I said above, when he's not screaming, I do like this -- "In Elegence" is a good example of this. I'd say more of that please, and less of the screaming. Evergrey would be one yardstick - Englund doesn't need to scream like this to get the point across, but you know, if the emotion of the song reached that point, only then would he and it would have impact. And the example of this would be "Hollow Crown," which mixes clean and harsh, and is the one that would most appeal to fans of dark metal like Evergrey.

And, another compliment is that the band seems pretty tight. Sure, studio wizardy aids in that, but there's nothing that seemed? sloppy. And so their performance is pretty good; it just doesn't move me.

So yeh, if I wanted to piss off some co-worker who had pissed me off, I could see me blasting this or something like it, let it do the raging for me. Let the rapid fire contact of stick to skin be the repeating fire of the semi-auto or serve as some blungeoning blunt instrument. The guitars would be some sort of power drill or buzz saw - you know all the clich?s, right? Pile 'em on right here.

But, as a reviewer, the best I can muster is an "eh." I can't in good conscious condem it to 1 point just because I don't like it; nor can I inflate it beyond average to a 10 because even though I don't like it, it's supposed to be some great thing. I mean, I've been wowed before by things I didn't think I'd like, genres that I had certain opinion about. This didn't move me, didn't make me suddenly have an affinity for the style of music. But I do recognize that it does take some talent to pull this off - instrumentally, that is. And you have to have some pretty resilient vocal cords (or sturdy mic effects) to pull off the screams. So? we're left with "eh."

[Apparently this was (to be) rereleased August 2010, in the UK only, as a deluxe edition that includes "a DVD documentary on their previous 18 months of touring/recording and a remix of the title track "Hollow Crown" by the guitarist and drummer Tom and Dan Searle" (according to Wikipedia, so, you know... though it was pulling that from the band's Facebook page...).]

Early Grave (3:33) / Dethroned (3:07) / Numbers Count For Nothing (3:50) / Follow The Water (3:41) / In Elegance (4:17) / We're All Alone (3:01) / Borrowed Time (2:31) / Every Last Breath (3:29) / One Of These Days (2:34) / Dead March (3:47) / Left With A Last Minute (2:58) / Hollow Crown (4:25) / Bonus Track (UK only?): To The Death (2008 Re-recording) (2:38)

Sam Carter - lead vocals
Tom Searle - guitars
Dan Searle - drums, percussion
Alex "Ali Dino" Dean - bass
Tim Hillier-Brook - guitars

Nightmares (2006)
Ruin (2007)
Architects / Dead Swans (split EP) (2008)
Hollow Crown (2009)

Genre: Other

Origin UK

Added: September 28th 2010
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1798
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]