Album Review :
The Architect - The Benevolent EP

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Artist: The Architect
Title: The Benevolent EP
Label: Unsigned
Release Date: 3/13/13
Reviewer: Christian S.

1. The Heir
2. The Lion
3. The Benevolent
4. The Ascent
5. The Fire

“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves.” (Hebrews 10:1)

We live in a world that is fallen and dark, and the things we see are not real in an eternal perspective, but shadows of the things that will come when our Lord returns. The same can be said of central California metalcore band The Architect: this EP is their shadow, a glimpse into what the future may hold for them, but still eclipsed by the shortcomings so easily found in such an early work.

The Architect employs a fast-paced, relentless style of metalcore, relying heavily on breakdowns laced with melodic single-note riffs and raging screams. This approach is immediately evident in the first track, “The Heir,” which kicks off with a thumping bass drum and scattered electronics followed by the first of many breakdowns to appear throughout the EP. This intro takes up all of 15 seconds, and from there the song rushes into a fast melodic section that is sure to get the circle pits going at live shows, if only for another 20 seconds. A 6/8 time breakdown follows suit, and from there the rest of the song is a headspinning mess of breakdowns and riffs. As a whole, this song is hardly cohesive, sounding more like a few riffs jointed together end to end than a song. Perhaps they were going for a chaotic sound to keep a listener on their toes and a crowd off their feet; if so, they have executed it well.

The upbeat, head bobbing character of this release starts to shows itself in “The Lion.” This song, despite being the shortest track on the EP, has a much better flow than the last. The groovy guitar riff in the beggining actually has time to develop and form before giving way to another breadown. The last breakdown of this song is my favorite part of the whole EP, at first sounding like something that’d be at home on one of TDWP’s recent releases, then taking a much heavier, slower form.

Next comes the title track, and here The Architect throws their first curveball. The song drops off into an ambient, reverb-laden section while Brooks painfully shouts,“Crawl to me, move to me, come back home. I have everything you’ve ever wanted, I have everything you’ve ever needed to finally make the aching, and the pain, and the heartbreak stop, and to let the healing begin. But you have to let me in.” This song illustrates God’s heart for the lost, and the shift in moods illustrates the ways He can call to us. From screaming at the top of His lungs to whispering in a still small voice, God always finds ways to reach out to His people and bring them back.

This ambient theme carries over into the next song, which sounds very much like those frustrating filler tracks that can be found on countless metalcore records. At first I passed it off as such a track and skipped it over. But after a few listens, it’s become one of my favorite songs from the EP. It’s well produced, and the electronics hint back to some of the other tracks, tying everything together. Passionate vocals around the mid-point prove to be a response to God’s call found in the previous song, “If only your shadow could fall on us, Jesus, How beautiful You are. And now I want to love You because You first loved me, without condemnation.” This theme of response is continued further into the last song, ending the EP with victorious energy.

As I said before, this EP is just a shadow of what I think The Architect is capable of. The songwriting is sporadic, there is little flow among the tracks, and there are many uncomfortable transitions between parts of the songs; however, my biggest issue with this release is the production. The kick drum is mixed far too loud, and it pushes the compressor so hard the whole song shudders every time it hits. The kick is also mixed extremely wide, so that it takes up the entire low end of the frequency spectrum. As a result, the bass guitar is nonexistent and even the guitars are hard to distinguish at times. The electronics, even when well executed, are poorly mixed and sound out of place.

The Architect has only been around just over a year, and as such a young band it’s unfair to expect them to have it all figured out. This EP is a realistic reflection of that idea, and even through loose songwriting and poor production it’s plain to see that The Architect has a future. This EP is just a shadow of what’s to come.

RIYL: August Burns Red, The Devil Wears Prada, Colossus, Onward to Olympas