2009 saw ARCHITECTS blow the lid off the Post-Hardcore/Metalcore world with the release of their third album, “Hollow Crown,” which was equally embraced by the Metal community, for its intense DILLINGERisms, and the Hardcore ‘scene’, for the vitalizing dose of UNDEROATHian melody injected into their album. “Hollow Crown” was, and is, a flawless album. The follow-up however, 2011’s “The Here and Now” – which I thought was a pretty decent record - received quite a bit of backlash for abandoning the heavier side of their sound and pushing it into more accessible, melodic territory. Now, in 2012, there’s been a lot of press about the band’s newest release being a return to the heavier aesthetic of “Hollow Crown” (and its predecessor “Ruin”).
“Daybreaker” is undeniably heavier than “The Here and Now” but it is in no way a return to the more definably Metal sound of the band’s earlier releases. There’s a hint of THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN creeping back into their sound on tracks like “Alpha Omega” and “Devil’s Island,” but it still errs on the melodic side of things and is much more laden with the Post-Hardcore/Screamo-cross-REFUSED mode of “The Here and Now.” This isn’t a criticism in and of itself – as I said, I quite like “Here and Now” – unfortunately, this aspect of the band’s sound seems considerably out of place and inferior alongside the renewed brutality. There are far stronger moments on “Daybreaker” than “The Here and Now” managed to provide but, as a whole, the album doesn’t feel as consistent and fleshed out as its precursor. With “The Here and Now,” ARCHITECTS took their sound in a refined and focused direction; here, as they try to walk the line between regression to a successful formula and progression into a more accessible dynamic, the general result is unfulfilling.
Overall, the heavier songs make a stronger case for the band’s future direction. “Daybreaker”’s best moments come in the form of heavier numbers - such as “Devil’s Island,” once you get past the excruciatingly pouted intro - which, by contrast, make the album’s softer, more melodic moments seem futile by comparison, sometimes within the context of a single song; “Alpha Omega” sets up a really interesting and unconventional, heavy verse/pre-chorus, only to be ruined by an ill-fitting, clean-sung chorus.
The moments when the band actually does manage to get the balance right however, they strike gold. “These Colours Don’t Run” is at once catchy and insanely heavy for this type of music – the drop at the end is ungodly, and if it doesn’t have you pulling a Jesus Christ pose and wanting to charge through walls then you’re clearly broken – and “Feather Of Lead” manages to mould the more upbeat, REFUSED-inspired side of “The Here And Now” into an enjoyable Hardcore romp. However, these moments are too few and far between not to be dragged down by the album’s uninspiring middle section and, especially, the superfluous intro/outro tracks that bookend the album.
Despite its unevenness, “Daybreaker” is an enjoyable enough listen if you’re into this sort of thing, but it fails to capture the quality ARCHITECTS showed themselves capable of with “Hollow Crown,” despite more than proving its potential is still there with “Daybreaker”’s stronger compositions.