2016 for Architects was set to be a huge year for them. The seventh album All Your Gods Have Abandoned Us received rave reviews, and appeared near and at the top of many end of year lists (including my list where it made a top 10 appearance). The album was the greatest metalcore album of the year; it pushed the boundaries of the genre resulting in an album that was unconventional, unapologetic and challenging.
But on Saturday 20th August 2016, their guitarist Tom Searle tragically passed away after battling cancer for three years, he was 28. But the band carried on in his memory, with brother and drummer Dan Searle stating on Facebook “We will 100% tour All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, there is no doubt about that. We will be going to Australia in a few weeks and we will be doing our UK and European headline tour in October and November. We hope that these shows will be an opportunity for everyone out there to show their respects to my wonderful brother. It won’t be easy for us to get on stage and play every night without him, but its something that we must do.”
So fast forward to November and here we are with Sylosis guitarist/vocalist Josh Middleton playing guitar in Tom’s place. There was an evident air of sadness in the air but everyone was determined to have a good time. In the long queue outside in the freezing cold, fans were positive for the gig and the excitement to hear the new material live. After going in the venue and purchasing a drink, it was time for the first band.
I used to dislike Stick to Your Guns, but after seeing them live I was won over. The band were really fun and energetic, dedicating songs to the Standing Rock protesters and Architects who frontman Jesse Barnett referred to as an inspiration and influence to the band. Stick to Your Guns luckily didn’t fall victim to the curse of the poor sound for the opening act, their sound was huge and the lyrics were infectious. I vowed to listen to more of their material when I got home.
Bury Tomorrow‘s set was pure class and showed why they were one of the country’s best young bands. Opening with a rousing ‘Man on Fire,’ Bury Tomorrow hit the ground running and eclipsed Stick to Your Guns with one song. The eight songs they performed had the confidence of a class of a headline act which proved they would headline venues of this size in the future. One of the best moments of the set was when frontman Daniel Winter-Bates slammed bands who charged their fans for meet and greets. “It’s disgusting you have to pay to meet another human being” said Winter-Bates who promised his fans he’d be at the merch booth at the end of the gig. The songs performed by Bury Tomorrow were flawless with not a dud note heard. ‘Lionheart,’ ‘An Honourable Reign’ and finale ‘Earthbound’ were highlights of a set that should have been longer.
The curtain came up during the interval and the anticipation started to build. The fans started to yell “come on lads” and chant Architects at the top of their lungs, then the lights went off. When the band opened with ‘Nihilist’ and the whole crowd yelled “All our gods have abandoned us” at the top of their voices, it was clear their biggest show yet was going to be a momentous occasion. The set proved that they’re going to be headlining arenas some day, it was a set that was heavy, relentless and very special.
Frontman Sam Carter expressed his gratitude to the support acts (labelled Stick to Your Guns his favourite band and mentioning that Bury Tomorrow will be headlining Brixton someday). He also expressed his amazement that the venue sold out and that how crazy the journey has been to get to this point. Chants of Architects turned to Tom and it was clear the band were taken aback by the support. Songs were dedicated to the Searle family, the audience and to the Sea Shepherd organisation (who were raising money and selling shirts in the lobby).
Architects mainly played material from All Our Gods and Lost Forever // Lost Together, ignoring The Here and Now but playing fan favourites ‘Early Grave’ and ‘Follow the Water’ from Hollow Crown and ‘These Colours Don’t Run’ from Daybreaker, which levelled the venue. Finishing with ‘Naysayer’ Architects rose to occasion and proved why they are the flag bearers of British metal.
The band returned for ‘A Match Made in Heaven’ which ignited the crowd once more, pits everywhere and horns in the sky. But before the finale, Dan Searle gave a heartbreaking speech (which can be watched in full below) to the crowd about the tour which he used to pay tribute not only to his brother and bandmates, but the amazing audience. “Tom would have loved to have seen this,” commented Dan to which members from the crowd yelled “he can see this!” But the most inspirational bit of the speech was when Dan told the crowd. “Don’t sell yourself short in this life, find what you love, embrace it, go for it with everything you have. Don’t accept mediocrity because other people in your life have, find what you love and just go for it.” The speech delivered a titanic applause and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, grown men were weeping on leaning on each other for support. Sam Carter before starting the next song, quickly paid tribute to Dan for being “an absolute inspiration to us.” The band finished with a titanic ‘Gone With The Wind,’ which had the whole venue screaming every word, Sam Carter even stepped back to let audience sing large sections of the song. It was a colossal end to a gig that was emotional, beautiful and in all honesty the best set I saw in 2016. Architects are a well oiled machine that I hope will carry on playing for a long time.
Also true to his word Daniel Winter-Bates was in the lobby signing autographs, posing for photos and shaking hands. I got a photo with him, a perfect end to a great gig.