Climate crisis rock hasn’t exactly taken off in recent years. Mainstream music’s reliance on easily digestible emotional journeying grates awkwardly against the catharsis-vacuum that is the Earth’s current trajectory. Those who have tackled the topic have often taken circuitous routes – delegating to experts (the 1975 enlisted Greta Thunberg); shockingly reimagining the process as a triumph of malevolence (Anohni, Grimes) – but stalwart Brighton metallers Architects plump for a straightforward take on their ninth album, an hour-long wrestling match with impending doom and disaster.
Yet no matter the framing device – histrionic hardcore, glitchy electronica, dreamy balladeering – the doom comes out on top. All the cobweb-blasting screaming, brain-invading melodies and skin-scouring riffs provide none of their customary release when juxtaposed with the needling, inescapable horror of the lyrics; the spiralling, math-rock style detailing elsewhere only heightens the tension. The only thing that lightens the load is the occasional burst of sixth-form-poetry melodrama (see: Black Lungs, Animals).
Architects are well versed in transforming unimaginable loss into rich and emotionally engaging material; their previous album, Holy Hell, was fuelled by the grief of losing founding member and guitarist Tom Searle to skin cancer at the age of 28. This record, however, names a pain that is less tangible but also less senseless, accompanied by a combination of nebulous guilt and profound helplessness. For Those Who Wish to Exist proves Architects’ ability to oscillate between thoughtful, interesting, finely wrought compositions and gleefully hulking exercises in metal obviousness is still intact. The fact it often feels stultifying regardless proves turning climate anxiety into gratifying entertainment is a very difficult art to master.