Reviews

Live review: Architects, Alexandra Palace

British metal overlords Architects enjoy an arena-sized victory lap. Could mainstream superstardom be next?

Live review: Architects, Alexandra Palace
Words:
Mark Sutherland
Photos:
Ed Mason

It’s not easy to convey a sense of encroaching menace in broad daylight, but Malevolence give it a go. A ludicrously early stage time for their opening slot on Architects' massive London headliner at the end of a week in arenas ensures they play when much of the crowd is still queuing in the early evening sunshine that filters through Ally Pally’s glass roof into the main room. But none of that stops their bruisingly heavy set whipping up a circle-pit worthy of the midnight hour.

The absence of gloom does Sleep Token few favours either, given that they frame their gigs as ‘rituals’ and appear in cowls and masks, in front of a logo symbol that resembles an anti-fascist carrot. If that all sounds a bit ‘The Wicker Man at Alton Towers’, well, it is, but that’s a wild ride and so are Sleep Token; part elegiac choral recital, part brutal breakdown bonanza, all intrigue.

Darkness has finally fallen by the time Architects make their entrance – which is ironic, given that they’re the band most likely to lead metal back into the light.

Singer Sam Carter is keen to mark the significance of this show but, in truth, Architects are now well-established, even comfortable in venues of this size. The question now is, are they a band that merely wish to exist at this level, or wish to exceed expectations? After all, that latest album, the bedrock of tonight’s expansive set, delivered a Number One record and has clearly broadened tonight’s crowd beyond the metalcore heartlands.

That’s left them standing on the brink of an even bigger breakthrough, should they want it. They already have a setlist with all the required dynamics for a big rock show and a frontman equally at ease with handling emotional moments (paying tribute to much-missed guitarist Tom Searle on Gone With The Wind, bringing a friend’s recovering child on stage for a hug and a cheer) as he is at conducting mosh-pit mayhem.

Significantly, newer songs such as Discourse Is Dead and Impermanence provoke the most extreme reactions, while a brilliant encore of When We Were Young and Animals suggests Architects haven’t finished building yet.

Bring Me The Horizon have shown it’s possible for metal bands to successfully infiltrate the mainstream. So, as Sam salutes the crowd at the end in his Bruce Willis white vest, there’s only one conundrum left to solve: are Architects happy playing to metalcore die hards, or are they prepared to go the whole nine yards?

Because while tonight is undoubtedly a triumph, only in the cold light of day will we know whether that’s still enough for Architects.

Setlist:

Black Lungs
Giving Blood
Impermanence
Nihilist
Modern Misery
Discourse Is Dead
Royal Beggars
A Match Made In Heaven
Mortal After All
Gravedigger
Little Wonder
Meteor
Dead Butterflies
Hereafter
Gone With The Wind
Doomsday

Encore:

when we were young
Animals

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