Architects’ massive 7th album, All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, was always going to be a difficult one to follow up. It was the band’s most commercially successful release to date, and undeniably the heaviest, most impressive record of their career so far. But after the loss of founding guitarist and lyricist Tom Searle to cancer in August 2016, it seemed following that record might not happen at all. Even though the band have continued to tour over the past year, the future of Architects has been uncertain up until very recently.
The release of ‘Doomsday’, therefore, came completely out of the blue. Whilst the band had said that they were working on new music, it was not expected that we would get to hear it any time soon. According to Architects’ drummer – and Tom’s twin brother – Dan Searle, it is the bands’ way of “showing everyone that there’s still a future” and not necessarily a cut from a forthcoming album. The band will be taking their time with that, but for now we have this phenomenal monster of a song to soak up.
It is a well-polished track, sonically – the guitars are both heavy and melodic, frontman Sam Carter’s vocals equal parts clean and snarling – and in true Architects style, simply huge. It is, however, the lyrics of ‘Doomsday’ which stand out. Written by Dan about the early stages of grief, they are fittingly chaotic – the story of a man grappling with an immense loss, and the storm of thoughts and feelings which accompany that. There is the way that grief feels like drowning and not feeling able to swim against it – “The water is rising all around me / And there is nothing left I can give”. There’s the bitterness towards the empty words people offer as comfort – “They say the good die young / No use in saying ‘what is done is done’ / ‘Cause it’s not enough”. There’s the hopelessness that feels endless, the sense that the pain will never end – “when the night gives way / It’s like a brand-new doomsday”. There is the questioning of whether it is possible to move on, and whether that is even okay – “What if I completely forget? / What if I never accept?”
This is not to say that the entirety of the song is nihilistic. As Sam sings “Souls don’t break – they bend”, it feels like he is trying to remind himself – that they are all trying to remind themselves – that he is okay, sort of. It is a battle cry, an acknowledgement that grief has changed them and it hurts but they still have lives to live. In the chorus Sam cries out “I have to do this for you / And the only way out is through”, a nod to both how the band goes forward and how their lives continue will always be influenced by Tom. His legacy is many things, but that life is meant to be lived fully is perhaps the most significant aspect of it.
As Dan revealed on Twitter, ‘Doomsday’ is a song that “Tom had started but never got to finish” – and a riff he recorded is even a part of the final track. That Tom gets to be on this song makes it a fitting transition to whatever Architects do next – though undoubtedly he will continue to be a part of everything the band does, in spirit. The drummer admits that “Completing it for [Tom] was a massive responsibility”; and certainly, his brothers’ are big boots to fill. Somehow, because they’re Architects, they’ve managed to do Tom – and themselves – justice.