Architect / The Network
All Is Not Lost / This Is Your Pig’s Portrait
B+ / C
n his Blackmarket Activities label, the Red Chord vocalist Guy Kozowyk has catalogued some of the most scathing, chaotic sounds in heavy music today. With the likes of Animosity, Ed Gein, and From a Second Story Window, BMA bands fuse metal and hardcore punk into wrenchingly angular hybrids. Bruising live shows are a BMA prerequisite. In an interview with Stylus, Kozowyk said, "I look for bands that are willing to…go on the road, devote your life to touring, and put on a devastating, ridiculous live show." Two new signings, Architect and the Network, offer radically different takes on BMA's sound.
Compared to its more technical labelmates, Architect sounds simple. At times, its songs do undergo shuddering stop-start rhythms. However, the band doesn't come from the usual perspective of math-y prog, but of pure impact. Its rhythms resemble the speech patterns of a screaming match. Keith Allen's roaring vocals often lock step with the guitars, which mostly bludgeon the low end with some forays into dissonant textures. This synchronicity combines with a beefy mix for a mammoth, singular sound. Unlike its peers, who often sound like schoolyard pile-ons, Architect makes each punch count.
Its lyrics, too, single-mindedly attack the Bush administration. They're more personal than polemic: "The American dream has become a living nightmare / While you sleep at night, I am wide awake." Few antiwar protests express frustration as well as "Collapse the War Engine." The song breaks down to a mantra-like chant: "What purpose does drive this engine"—then throws its hands up: "When will this machine collapse / Never."
The Network, likewise, has drawn inspiration from 9/11. However, sonically and lyrically, the band isn't so focused. Spiraling, dissonant runs spray around like machine guns operated by headless chickens. Chugging riffs, odd meters, and even acoustic interludes lurch about with a logic known only to the band. The lyrics, too, alternate between political rants and violent personal imagery. With three vocalists trading screams and growls, these pieces are fascinatingly jagged. However, they don't fit together coherently; these 16 tracks could have been 10 songs.
Chaos-based music can sometimes work through sheer power. But thin production blunts the force of this album, turning snare hits into mere taps. This type of material often sounds better live than on record, though, and the Network is hitting the road with Architect for the next month. "Metalcore" is fast becoming an inadequate term that somehow describes both Killswitch Engage and Converge. For the more savage, visceral side of the genre, you'd do well to catch this tour.