Live Review: Architects w/ Beartooth & Polaris | O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester | 14/01/19

Over their long history as a band, Architects have risen through the ranks and now reside at the very pinnacle of the British metal scene. 2018 saw the band achieve a monumental feat never thought possible by a band of their genre; a sold-out show at London's historic Alexandra Palace. After the Alexandra Palace show already making 2018 a record year for the band, they capped the year off with the release of Holy Hell, their most critically acclaimed album to date. With all the success the band saw last year, they seem determined to make 2019 an even bigger year for the band, with the UK leg of the Holy Hell tour culminating in a show at London's Wembley Arena. We caught the band at the O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester, making their long-awaited return to the city after what seems like forever – and damn was it an incredible sight to behold.

Opening the show were Aussie metalcore outfit Polaris [8]. Leaving nothing in reserve, the band gave a stunning performance that eagerly displayed their tact and mastery of the genre. Opening their set with 'The Remedy' from their 2017 album The Mortal Coil, the band quickly energised the crowd into raucous displays of enjoyment and enthusiasm in an attempt to reflect the energy being given on stage back at the band. The ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) award-winning band gave a performance which did much more than justify the hype preceding them. In a relatively short six-song set, Polaris set the bar incredibly high for the rest of the night, which sent a clear message to Beartooth that they needed to bring nothing less than their A-game in order to surpass the room's newly-elevated expectations.

Kicking their set off with 'Bad Listener', a cut from their latest record, Beartooth [9] magnificently announced their arrival in Manchester to a crowd that quickly proved to be very familiar with the band already. A common subject explored within the band's material is the struggle with depression – something directly relatable by an overwhelming majority of people today. From beginning to end the band's set had their extensive cohort of die-hard fans singing every word back to them. Beartooth are a band that if you're into them, you're all the way in. The catchy riffs and vocal melodies coupled with the deeply relatable meaning behind the lyrics make Beartooth more than just a band for their fans - they're a safe-haven that contextualise and vocalise the strong emotions that depression sufferers experience each and every day.

Beartooth's set was comprised of stand-out tracks all three of their superb and emotionally-honest studio albums. Given the subject matter of most of their tracks, it'd be easy to imagine a very sombre mood emanating from the room if you've never experienced Beartooth before – and that couldn't be further from the truth. Much like their albums, the set was a triumphant ode to struggling with all the dark times and making it out the other side time and again – a sentiment that united the room as one voice.

Ending their set with the titular track from their latest studio album, by this point the band had the whole room giving them everything they had. It's been no secret that the writing process for 'Disease' had been incredibly mentally-taxing for frontman Caleb Shomo, but seeing the wonderful response the band was getting at a non-headline show must've reaffirmed the fact that going through that hardship was worth it as the band clearly means the world to a lot of people. Beartooth delivered a set that was absolutely astounding both musically and from a performance standpoint, and by the time the set was over, the feeling in the room was not just that of excitement for the main act, but of deep elation at the display just witnessed.

Now it was time for Architects [10] mark their return to the stage in Manchester to kick off the UK leg of the Holy Hell tour. Lighting the fuse on what was sure to be an explosive show, the band blasted into the opening track from Holy Hell, 'Death is Not Defeat' which sparked a unified eruption of pent up excitement and energy from the packed room. If you've been a fan of the band for a while, you'll already know that their somewhat recent ascendency into the forefront of the genre can be attributed to their previous two albums winning them a whole host of new fans. Due to this, the bands set was comprised mainly of material from Lost Forever // Lost Together until now, with only the track 'These Colours Don't Run' surviving from their pre-2014 catalogue.

Early on in the set the band positively put to rest any lingering doubts people may have as to whether Architects will translate well into large venues. Architects are an arena band in every sense of the term. The whole band were absolutely on top of their game from start to finish, from Dan's brutally energetic double pedal work, to Sam's guttural vocal performance; this was a band using their wealth of experience to give the fans their money's worth.

This was the first time the band had played a show in Manchester since the tragic attack that took place at the cities' arena in May 2017, and at the midway point in the set, frontman Sam Carter took the opportunity to do a poignant dedication to the victims of the attack and praise the city for how it came together in the wake of such an abhorrent tragedy. After this sombre tribute, the band continued with some of the older material in the setlist: 'Naysayer' and 'These Colours Don't Run'. As incredible as the album version of 'These Colours Don't Run' is, you can't even draw comparison to hearing the brutal riffs reverberating around a large room and seeing the free-for-all that it evokes from a capacity crowd.

All the way through the performance the band kept the energy full-throttle, playing an eclectic mix of their full-bore, anthemic metalcore to a crowd who were visibly loving every minute. After bringing the main body of the set to a close with 'A Wasted Hymn' and 'Memento Mori', the band returned to the stage to kick the encore off with 'Gone With the Wind'.

Once the band reached the end of 'Gone With the Wind', the backdrop changed to a touching tribute to late guitarist Tom Searle consisting of his initials encircled by a heart. This sparked the crowd to chant Tom's name and raise their hands in a heart shape to show their respect and love for an integral part of the band who is sorely missed to this day. The band then capped their set off with the thumping track 'Doomsday', covering the room in a mass of confetti.

Over the course of a couple of hours, Architects more than justified their status as one of the best bands the UK has to offer. Their stunning musicality, anthemic songwriting, and incredible live prowess is indicative of a band who are going to go down in the annals of music history as one of the best bands of this generation. This time we live in is an incredible time to be alive, if just for the fact you can go and witness Architects playing their hearts out in the absolute prime of their career. Absolutely flawless.


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