Date: January 14th 2019
Venue: O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester
Support: Polaris / Beartooth
After a tragic few years, recovering from the loss of not only a band member but also a friend and family member, Architects have persevered through some truly dark times to the burning light at the end of the tunnel, and the latest thrust there has come from ‘Holy Hell’.
Their recently released eighth full-length continued to catapult them further into territory that’s seldom tread by outfits even marginally as heavy as Architects, seeing them head on their biggest ever headline tour of the UK, including a stop at Wembley Arena. But, before then, Manchester marks the first stop.
Setting the fuse the alight are Aussie boys Polaris , who manage to take control of what is normally a much bigger stage than they’re used to on this opposite side of the world. They stick to numbers from their record ‘This Mortal Coil’, and the likes of set opener ‘The Remedy’ and ‘Crooked Path’ are tantalising.
Frontman Jamie Hails in particular portrays himself as a force to be reckoned with on the stage, and, by the time we get to their final outing ‘Lucid’, it’s hard to not imagine them only continuing to rise the ranks this year. They’ll probably have another record before 2019 is out too.
Coming out to more dismal and blunt coloured lighting is suitable for Beartooth  considering their lyrical subject matter and topics, often addressing mental health and the stigma that surrounds it. Whether you’re keen on the Ohio metalcore troupe or not, the way they can stranglehold and command the room from the first note to the last is something to admire.
Frontman Caleb Shomo and co. stomp through a riotous set that spans across all three of their records. ‘Bad Listener’ and ‘You Never Know’ are both brutish and bold, whereas ‘In Between’ has the entire room throw and sway their arms in the air and bellow the chorus refrain at the top of their lungs.
An unexpected drum solo from Connor Denis gets thrown in midway through the set, allowing a bit of a breather for the other members of the band, but also a chance for him to showcase that he’s certainly an underrated name in the genre. Shomo also gives an emotional yet positive speech at one point, assuring that suffering from a life-long mental illness does not equal weakness, and in fact it’s actually part of what makes you human – an important message on a prevalent topic.
Some slow strings lead us into Architects’  set, before Sam Carter‘s impassioned yells grab and submerge us into ‘Death Is Not Defeat’. From here on out, they unleash a pummeling and passionate set that continues to protect their stake as one of the best live bands that the world of modern metal has to offer today.
Indeed, every member of the band is firing on all cylinders. The riffs from Josh Middleton and Adam Christianson are both towering and monstrous, the combined rhythm force from bassist Ali Dean and Dan Searle almost makes the venue quake during the likes of ‘Nihilist’ and ‘Broken Cross’, and it’s hard to think of a vocalist that can stand toe-to-toe with Carter when ‘Royal Beggars’ and ‘Naysayer’ rear their heads.
Carter takes several moments throughout the set to share his sincere love for the city of Manchester, and not only because he’s a die-hard Manchester United fan, but also partly because it was the first date of the tour to sell out.
He speaks briefly about the horrific events of the Manchester Arena bombings in 2017, and praises the city’s unity, love, and solidarity in its aftermath before dedicating ‘Downfall’ to those who lost their lives that night. It’s a heart-tugging moment that’s met with a wave of applause, and is one that makes it very clear how sincerely the band treasure this city.
It’s something that clearly the fans not only appreciate, but return. Before jumping into ‘Gone With The Wind’ to start off their encore, the stage backdrop reads “T//S” in a heart, as a tribute to the band’s late guitarist, Tom Searle. With it, the room is filled with arms thrown in the air, emulating the heart with their hands whilst chanting his name.
This camaraderie and devotion between both the fans and Architects is what makes them both so dedicated to one another. As the final notes of ‘Doomsday’ ring out and the band take their leave, their talent and their importance continue to echo beyond the venue, and they clench tighter onto their position amongst the metalcore elite.