Holy Hell North America
Thy Art Is Murder, While She Sleeps
Tue, May 14
Doors: 7:00 pm9:30 Club
On February 3rd, 2018, Architects confirmed their ascent to the very upper echelons of British heavy music.
In front of a sold-out Alexandra Palace – one of London’s biggest and most revered live music venues – the quintet gave a performance of such resonance that it met acclaim from both the rock and wider music press, and underlined their status as a live act of such ferocity that they would later be coronated ‘Best British Live Band’ at the 2018 Kerrang! Magazine Awards.
Such an accomplishment is not, common industry perception dictates, supposed to happen to a band such as Architects, whose fiercely authentic blend of rage, emotion and unrivalled technicality has long since earmarked them as the most special of propositions to the devoted ranks of rock music fans, despite their standing staunchly in opposition to the disposable, shallow nature of popular culture in 2018.
For those reasons alone, the dizzying success of Architects in recent years makes for one of music’s most incredible stories. Placed within the context of the tragedy that befell the band in August 2016, however, and it becomes all the more remarkable.
Eighteen months prior to that evening, on the morning of August 21st, 2016, the world awoke to the news that Tom Searle – founding guitarist, principal songwriter, band leader and twin brother to drummer Dan – had the day prior passed away following a private three-year battle with skin cancer.
Architects’ critically acclaimed and commercially successful (charting at #15 in the UK) seventh album, All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, had been released just weeks before, and with touring commitments scheduled to take them into the biggest venues of their lives all around the world, the band drafted in longtime friend, guitarist Josh Middleton, to help them pay public tribute night after night, month after month, to a man described by drummer Dan as “the omnipresent heartbeat of the band”.
“In those first months after Tom’s death, I didn’t deal with it at all and I felt so unhappy and anxious,” Dan continues. “I hadn’t dealt with it our acknlowlegded it; i’d ignored it and just tried to cope. But I knew that at some point, I had to learn from it. At the time, we told people that we had no idea what would happen to the band. And that was for real. I really believed we could keep going as a band, but, in many ways, it felt like a ridiculous ambition to have.
“It’s at times like that that you ask yourself, ‘What is left?’” adds Sam Carter. “As a group of friends, we had to find something.”
“Ultimately, there were two choices,” Dan says. “Feel sorry for yourself, and believe the world to be a horrible place and let it defeat you. Or let it inspire us to live the life that Tom would have wanted us to live.”
Written in the aftermath of Tom’s passing, and recorded across a six-month span from October 2017 through to April 2018, the stunning Holy Hell – Architects’ forthcoming eighth album, released on November 9th via Epitaph Records – is the sound of the resultant grief, pain and confusion that engulfed the band during that time.
As the world has long come to expect from Architects – vocalist Sam, drummer Dan, guitarists Josh and Adam Christianson and bassist Ali Dean – it is a record masterfully executed. Few bands, of this modern era or any other, can match the quintet’s ability to blend uncompromising heaviness with razor-sharp melodic musicianship. Though to take these 11 songs at headbanging face-value would be to miss the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with the band’s most personal work ever. In turning their songwriting perspective away from the previously explored territories of impending environmental disaster, global societal suffering and political corruption, and focussing instead on the most difficult trials and tribulations human beings must all encounter in life, they have put forward their most emotionally affecting, universally accessible songs to date.
“For me, broadly speaking Holy Hell is about pain: the way we process it, cope with it, and live with it,” Dan begins. “In losing my brother, the primary thing I have taken away from the ongoing grieving process is that there are lessons in pain. There is
Certainly, Holy Hell stares suffering in the face throughout its complex lyrical journey, which opens with the the anthemic Death Is Not Defeat – “A song to Tom,” Dan reveals. “I think a bit of him felt like he was letting us down by dying, and I couldn’t have him feel that.” What follows, however, much like the grieving process that underpins its entire creation, is a narrative arch that is not an easily navigable path leading simply from dark beginning to brighter end.
While Damnation finds the band revisiting and reexamining the lyric <<’Hope is a prison>>’ – originally penned by Tom Searle on All Our Gods… track Gone With The Wind – from a more hopeful place, and Doomsday (released as a previously standalone single last September, which to date has garnered in excess of 15m views on YouTube) takes on a more positive meaning in context, the haunting refrain of <<’I don’t want to dream any more’>> in the bludgeoning The Seventh Circle is a desperate reminder of a darkness that lurks behind every false dawn.
“I desperately wanted the album to be lyrically authentic,” Dan reveals. “I originally wanted to make a sequential album that went from ‘fuck life’ to ‘life’s OK’, but that’s simply not how grief works. I wanted to express the blunt end of grief, where it can feel like there is no point in life any more, and I didn’t want to censor that.”
And yet, in closing with A Wasted Hymn, Holy Hell sees the band looking forward to a light at the end of the tunnel. The album’s most emotionally heavy moment, the track features a segment of guitar recorded by Tom prior to his death. “It’s my favourite part of the record,” Dan smiles.
“I was very worried about people taking away a despondent message from the album,” Dan admits. “I felt a level of responsibility to provide a light at the end of the tunnel for people who are going through terrible experiences. Because I would have like that when Tom first died. Hearing someone else articulate it in the way we have done here would have been something that would have really helped me.”
“I hope Holy Hell helps people going through similar to us,” Sam Carter says. “The one thing that’s come into focus throughout this journey is that it’s not just us going through grief, and I hope if it can help people in the way that it helped me process those emotions.”
“To help other people through their pain,” adds Dan, “would be an amazing thing to be able to take away from this.”
----Sam Coare, August 2018
Thy Art Is Murder
Australia's incendiary extreme musical export THY ART IS MURDER, return with one of the most anticipated releases of the year. Produced and mixed by Will Putney (SUICIDE SILENCE, EXHUMED, THE ACACIA STRAIN), "Holy War" is the band's second release for Nuclear Blast Entertainment and third full-length album overall.
"Late last year, we entered the studio in secret to create our follow up to 'Hate', free of expectation and public pressure," explains guitarist Andy Marsh. "What we came out with was a reaction to things going on around the world that crawl under our skin, that make us feel sick to be alive. Musically it is darker, faster and more technical than anything we've done in the past and it hits hard lyrically. We wrote about concerns of ours, real issues, hardships that people are facing around the world today. Of course it wouldn't be a THY ART record if a lot of those affairs weren't rooted in religion somehow, and what better way to sum up the state of all things than by entitling our album 'Holy War'. This is our war on racism, homophobia, child abuse, animal cruelty and all evil born of religious immunity, indoctrination, and ignorance. It is ultimately a push for secularism and humanism. Without it, we will be left in the hands of mad men."
"Holy War" will be available in various formats (digital; limited digi-pak + bonus track; assorted color vinyl; exclusive mail-order picture disc) and unleashed in North America on June 30th, in Europe & Australia on June 26th, and in the U.K. on June 29th.
Rising from the unhallowed wastes of Western Sydney, THY ART IS MURDER successfully cleaved a trail of blood & mayhem since their inception in 2006. With the acclaimed Infinite Death EP (2008) and their debut album The Adversary (2010) firmly establishing their name in the global metal music scene, the band has traversed highways & autobahns all around the world, playing 342 tour dates alone in support of their Nuclear Blast Entertainment debut, Hate (2012), which debuted at #35 on the Top 40 Aria chart - the highest chart debut of any Australian extreme metal band.
Known for their tireless work ethic, THY ART IS MURDER performed at Summer Slaughter 2014 & 2013, headlined their own "Hate Across America" tour in 2013, and supported both EMMURE and BORN OF OSIRIS in 2014, playing throughout the U.S. more times in a two-year period than any other Australian band in any genre of music.
While She Sleeps
“We’ve let our hair down and we’ve got our bollocks out. I’m not fucking about. I’m not cutting corners. I’ve been writing like this will be my last album.”
Some bands play it safe when it comes to taking their next steps. But then, While She Sleeps have never been “some band”. The Sheffield quintet have made a career out of confounding expectations, be it through their dizzying blend of crushing metal, guttural hardcore and arena-worthy hooks, or the way they’ve carried themselves over an explosive, 13-year career. Their last album, 2017’s ‘You Are We,’ was a testament to the power of self-belief and determination; crowdfunded and released on the band’s own Sleeps Brothers label, it earned them award nominations from the likes of Metal Hammer and a Best Album win at the Heavy Music Awards, as well as landing them in the top ten of the UK album charts. Now, they look to build on that success with the release of fourth studio album: ‘SO WHAT?’
“You Are We got us to this special position, and it’s given us a platform,” continues guitarist Sean Long. “For us, it’s like, ‘What can we do to really stick this in people’s faces? What can we put out there that we’re buzzing off?’ I don’t want to be following everyone else; I want people to follow us.”
“You Are We was us learning how to really listen to ourselves,” adds fellow axeman Mat Welsh. “This record is us knowing how to exercise that. You Are We was basically a demo for this record.”
With the ‘You Are We’ cycle wrapped up, the band decamped to their self-built Sleeps Audio studio complex in Sheffield, where they’d spend five months recording their next chapter. Putting all their energy into making the best album they could, Sleeps decided that when it came to naming album four, typically, they weren’t going to play along with the usual music stereotypes.
“‘SO WHAT?’ is about how easily we all judge everything before we actually know anything about it,” explains Mat. “If we put a really elaborate title on a record with a really elaborate cover, that could give you the option of deciding what you think of it before you’ve listened to anything on it. The one thing we’re putting every bit of our creative juice into is the music.”
Recorded with producer Carl Bown, ‘SO WHAT?’ promises to be another defiant step forwards. “It’s going to blow your mind!” promises Mat, and if first single ‘Anti-Social’ is anything to go by, he isn’t kidding. An explosive, relentless four-minute anthem, it takes everything you know and love about While She Sleeps – clattering riffs, bruising breakdowns, snarling lyrics and big-ass singalongs – and sticks them in a blender. It’s punk, it’s heavy metal, it couldn’t be any other band but them, and yet it sounds unlike anything you’ve heard from them before. It’s the sound of While She Sleeps reborn. “It’s still very different – as much as it still sounds like While She Sleeps,” agrees Sean. “You get a taste of this new area that we’re flowing into. Even though it’s still really heavy, you get this twinge of what’s to come.”
“We felt excited about Anti-Social,” notes Mat. “It’s such a heavy tune, but it’s a different way of heavy than we’ve been before. It feels like you want to be out and drunk, throwing beer over your mates while it’s on. In a world where everyone expects you to be softening up or getting more generic, I think it’s fun to just throw out a song that’s just, like, ‘Nope! We’re not doing that!’”
Set for release on Sleeps Brothers in collaboration with metal mega-label Spinefarm, ‘SO WHAT?’ sees While She Sleeps working with a major label again for the first time since 2015’s ‘Brainwashed’, and the band are at pains to point out that this won’t mean there’ll be any compromise in their vision. “We got approached immediately by a bunch of labels, but we turned around to all of them and said, ‘The only way we’re going to do anything is if you let us release it on Sleeps Brothers, but you house that on your train, and we make the decisions behind everything,” Mat explains. “I fucking loved releasing You Are We ourselves, but at the same time, I played more on my laptop than I did on my guitar for the whole campaign. This release is a partnership between Sleeps Brothers and Spinefarm, but no one is breathing down our necks about the record we’re making or the singles we’re putting out.”
With a bigger platform to get their music into the world and a firestorm of a first single released, 2019 is shaping up to be the year of While She Sleeps. For a band that have spent over a decade redefining modern metal, it seems the best is yet to come.
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