Originally written by Michael Roberts.
I was quite impressed with this young UK outfit’s last album Ruin and eager to hear how they would follow it up. That sophomore effort was a solid piece of abrasive metalcore with the requisite melodic, radio-friendly trappings that we’ve come to expect from the genre nowadays. Hollow Crown is another strong offering that sees Architects (not to be confused with their similarly-named US counterparts) further refining their sound, while remaining tight-as-anything musically and once again blessed with a stellar production. Taken individually, just about every track here provides a solid blast of dissonant, chaotic metalcore in the Botch/Dillinger/ETID vein. However, as a whole Hollow Crown still suffers from the lack of distinctiveness that has thus far plagued this band, and while enjoyable enough, struggles to really stay with you.
Musically, Architects are hard to fault, and the blistering energy with which they imbue their songs is satisfyingly intense at all times. Hollow Crown also comes across as a heavier album than its predecessors (the band having tuned down to an almost ridiculously low pitch it seems). Vocalist Sam Carter has now settled into the band well, and while his scream is still a bit one-dimensional, his clean singing has definitely improved, sounding less forced this time around and generally tasteful (the exception being the ballad-esque title track, which is the album’s only real dud). But while Architects have improved in superficial areas, their songcraft hasn’t developed as much as I would have liked after the promise of Ruin. Even after numerous listens, it’s hard to recall too many of Hollow Crown’s songs outside of standouts like “Early Grave”, “Numbers Count for Nothing” and “Left With a Last Minute”. Frustratingly, the reasons for this aren’t all that obvious either.
I still hold out for Architects to knock out an album that delivers on what I still feel is a considerable amount of untapped potential. The band has again come tantalizingly close to breaking free of the limitations of metalcore and taking their place as one of extreme metal’s top young acts. As it is, Hollow Crown is still very good, but lacks that special something to set these guys apart as wolves and not merely well-bred sheep. Lads, keep pushing yourselves and don’t get too comfortable with your polished playing and top-notch production values. Don’t be content with simply being a good band, but strive to be a great one. I for one have full confidence in you.