Looking back at any given band’s discography, it often becomes apparent exactly when they turned from a group of young musicians out to just create the most enjoyable ruckus they can possibly muster into a well-tuned machinery where all musicians involved come to grasp their true potential; one such watershed moment was Architects‘ 2009 ripper Hollow Crown, where they began to wrangle their chaotic mathcore tendencies into a much more accessible shape.

Jean Pierre Pallais

Architects was one of those bands that meant the absolute world to me back when I exclusively listened to -core; hell, they’re still important to me. I won’t pretend that they aren’t, although nowadays, I just don’t find myself coming back to their music as much as I did before. Tom Searle’s humbling, prophetic lyrics, notably those on All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, were exactly what I needed to overcome my seemingly constant paralyzing fear of death that I had growing up. Following the release of that album and Tom’s devastating passing (may he rest in peace), the band unfortunately hasn’t hit with the same emotional impact anymore for me, but I still hold them close to my heart considering what they’ve done for me psychologically.

On an emotional/lyrical level, All Our Gods… is the album of theirs I hold dearest. When it comes to the instrumentation, that title (dare I say crown?) goes straight to Hollow Crown; there is no question. Although vocalist Sam Carter joined the band with the release of Ruin, he didn’t get to properly settle in until Hollow Crown, and from then on, the rest was history. Their sludgy brand of mathcore heard on Nightmares and Ruin paved the way for the marriage of technical chaos and soaring melodies heard on succeeding albums. Hollow Crown truly is an iconic album in the world of metalcore with how influential it was on that style of technical metalcore.

Musically speaking, I miss the days when Architects’ music was unpredictable, and Hollow Crown was exactly that. The song structures felt so organic, taking you on a wild linear ride through their frenetic mathcore cacophony. The riffage was completely off the wall, with each song cumulatively leaving you more bruised and battered than you were before. “Early Grave” is probably the single most catastrophic way to kick of an album like this; if you know, you know. “Early Grave” gets straight to the point from the moment it opens and from then on, the record doesn’t let up for a single moment until it comes to an end with the soaring ballad title track.

While you’re perpetually being bombarded with the technical instrumental whirlwind and Sam’s untethered vocal belligerence, his sung vocals come in at the most perfect moments to give you the breath of air you needed to make it through these songs. Sam Carter doesn’t sing as much on this album as he does on later works, but when he does, it really elevates whichever track it is to an entirely different dimension. The perfect example of this is “In Elegance”, which ends with Sam belting and pushing his vocal limits in a way I have yet to hear since then. The way his belted vocals are layered with his harshes during this chorus is one of the most satisfying moments on the album, and in their discography overall.

Hollow Crown was the major turning point in Architects’ ongoing lengthy career. This record was a perfect blend of the raw vitriol and aggression found on their first two records with the hyper-melodic aspect of their music that became a focus on their newest efforts. Although I’m personally not the biggest fan over their most recent material, I am glad that this group finally is getting the success that they deserve, especially with all the hard work and heartache that this band as been through. It all had to start somewhere, and things finally fell together with Hollow Crown.

Landon Turlock

I’ve been listening to metalcore since about 2008, and even though I was especially drawn to the more progressive and technical strains of the genre, I somehow managed to avoid Architects almost in their entirety until they released last year’s For Those Who Wish To Exist. While I don’t love FTWWTE, it’s a well-constructed, catchy modern metalcore release with a lot of orchestration – something that never fails to draw me in. When it was announced that we would be covering the British act’s third record, 2009’s Hollow Crown, for A Scene In Retrospect, it struck me as an opportunity to start to understand the evolution of Architects into the metalcore staple they are now.

From the first notes of “Early Grave”, the frenetic and technical sonic identity of the records is established in notable juxtaposition to what I know of contemporary Architects. There is a rawness and rage here on Hollow Crown that feels unpretentious and unfiltered. Upon an initial listen, the influences of fellow UK act SikTh are very apparent, as well as acts from across the pond like Every Time I Die, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Protest The Hero. While there is certainly comparisons to all of these acts, on Hollow Crown, Architects keep things a bit more grounded in straight-ahead hardcore/metalcore, eschewing some of the theatricality, experimental instrumentation, jazzy overtures, or Southern overtones that characterize some of the aforementioned groups.

The technical riffage, panic chords, and breakdowns make for an immediately enjoyable and engaging listen – it might feel a bit dated in terms of its production, but it still holds up. There are also vestiges of melody, anthemic choruses, and singing that have since become central components of the modern Architects sound. These melodic elements become even more apparent in the final quarter of Hollow Crown.

While Hollow Crown was not the sound of an unestablished band (it was their third album in four years), comparing Hollow Crown and For Those Who Wish To Exist makes for an interesting exercise. The mathy technicality of Hollow Crown has since been chiseled into muscular and memorable riffs, and the occasional singing and anthemic elements have been refined into catchy choruses. I have enjoyed retracing the steps of Architects’ evolution, but Hollow Crown certainly makes me wish I had started following the band over a decade ago instead of last year.

Alex Sievers

When you think of Architects, it’s easy to view Hollow Crown as their “first” album. Even though there are two albums before it – 2006’s Nightmares and 2007’s Ruin, two cool little tech-metal albums that don’t quite hold up – this might as well have been their debut in many ways. Released in January of 2009, and their first on Century Media, this was for a lot of people the very first album they heard from a then-young English band. Out here in Australia, the band supported August Burns Red and Parkway Drive mere months after its release, giving them a small but strong fan foothold for when they’d come back twice in 2010, both times of which I caught them (and were both great sets). This was the first record of theirs to maintain them beyond their U.K. stomping grounds, heading into more European, Aussie, and North American tours than ever before. From the perspective of a site like EIN, this was also the first of theirs to receive mass positive media coverage and have that coverage \stick with readers. That was how I personally first heard about them: music magazines at the time not shutting the fuck up about this band from Brighton who all had that photogenic, straightened-hair scene look.

Nowadays, the softball PR spin of ‘this is our heaviest and most melodic album’ is at the point of parody. But it wasn’t when their frontman basically described this album as such. Thing is, Hollow Crown is actually that kind of balanced record. There is way more melody, whether it’s in guitar or vocal form (or both at once, like on “Every Last Breath”). Then at other points, it truly was their heaviest work. “Early Grave,” objectively one of the band’s sickest songs, hits you like a fucking avalanche of sound from the first note. While much of the album is tuned to C# standard, one of the album’s punchiest and heaviest songs, “Dead March”, stands out. Played in Drop A on a seven-string, as was becoming the style at the time, you really noticed this sonic difference when you barrel into this song right after “One Of These Days”. Kicks your teeth in, it does.

Architects’ off-kilter mannerisms, mathematical signatures, serrated aggression, and technical playing is all inspired by the bands they so clearly wished they were: Botch, SikTh, Protest The Hero, Dillinger Escape Plan, and so on. You can hear this ALL over their first few albums, Hollow Crown included. It’s just that here, they side-stepped lanes from a mathcore orientation to a more popular metalcore approach, but one that was still techy. In doing so, Architects laid down the solid groundwork for the sound they’d come back around on with 2012’s formidable Daybreaker and 2014’s all-killer Lost Forever//Lost Together (my second favourite album of theirs behind 2016’s massive All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us LP).

Look at this album’s guitar-work, spearheaded by The Tom Searle (RIP), as all of it sounds absolutely pummeling and razor-sharp at the point of each riff’s seismic impact. Shit like the mathy, head-caving riff angles on “Follow The Water” and “Dethroned” alike are just so destructive. This band’s guitar output, especially on later albums with all of the varying riffs and chugs, is what many people gravitate towards their music because of. So much of that ethos started here on Hollow Crown.

Outside of guitars, see vocalist Sam Carter, who joined in 2007. Here, he aligned his register and technique to that corrosive, higher-pitched fry scream that he’s now become synonymous with alongside guys like Mike Hranica, doing away with that lower growl he had on Ruin. Screaming like an energizer bunny on crack aside, he sang more here (his singing has grown stronger and far more confident in the decade since this album). The hooks on “Dethroned” and “In Elegance”, that dope catchy chorus in “Follow The Water”, the last bit of “We’re All Alone”, and the relaxed title song all made use of Carter’s ever-growing singing presence to solid effect. His singing voice, and how he does that cool pitched-scream-sing thing in a lot of their choruses is now such a staple of the band’s songwriting, providing that larger-than-life feel that so many of their fans enjoy. That began back in ‘09.

That’s not to mention their further use of programming and glitch electronics from the Searle brothers during certain passages, coming to a head with the album’s stellar closing track. That title song is a dynamic, chilled-out electronica piece accompanied by Carter’s sweet singing and one that swells brilliantly to a great final crescendo that ends the album on a high note. This kicked off a trend of sorts on other records that followed Hollow Crown, with similarly implemented songs like “An Open Letter To Myself,” the first halves of “The Bitter End” and “Unbeliever”, “Red Hypergiant” and the end of “The Distant Blue”, as well the wonderful “Flight Without Feathers” from last year’s overly ambitious yet far too bloated For Those That Wish To Exist.

When Architects made Hollow Crown, they were barely just leaving their teen years. You can hear that ‘young, dumb, and full of cum’ approach deeply entrenched in this album’s track flow, the movement of these songs, and in the five members’ performances (Carter tracking the album’s vocals in just 14 hours.) They literally were all just kids. Their youth, coupled with the wider attention and eyes put on their band from this album and them cultivating a small but very dedicated fan-base, now seems like the main added pressure for why the band suddenly heel-turned into melodic post-hardcore on The Here And Now come January 2011 (shut up, that’s a good-ass record, and “Stay Young Forever” fucking rips).

This isn’t to say it’s perfect. Very few things are. While Hollow Crown carries with itself a great consistency, it’s also to the point where the back-half is a little one-note, save for the title song, losing some of the album’s individuality. Repeat listens are also a slog. The band themselves love this for the anger and innocence they had back then, but don’t wish to dwell on this record. Carter said in 2018: ‘No one wants to see fucking “Dead March”, no-ones wanted to see that for ten years, no one wanted to see that when it came out! No one wants to see “Every Last Breath”, no one gives a fuck about that!‘ Harsh, but that’s the reality: Architects are a whole other beast now, with different goals, perspectives, and to some degree, different sounds. The views, streams and sales on the singles, albums and tours they’ve done respectively since prove that. You’ll likely never see them perform “Early Grave” live again, and that’s fine, it wouldn’t be the same. The first block on the road to success had to go down at some moment in time. That moment was Hollow Crown, which steam-rolled into everything else. Whether or not you like their newer records, the band has indeed earned their crown, and it ain’t hollow.

Dominik Böhmer

Dominik Böhmer

Pretentious? Moi?

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