Architects –For Those That Wish to Exist
Architects’ eighth album, 2018’s Holy Hell, was grounded in grief. Released after the death of their guitarist and co-founder Tom Searle, whose writing was included on several songs, it weaponised the band’s pain and made for a deeply emotional listen.
For Those That Wish to Exist is a different beast entirely. Architects have proved countless times that they are highly adroit at creating rugged landscapes out of juggernaut riffs and thunderous percussion. The more impressive feat – of this album, in particular – is the scope. Architects, who have long championed causes such as the environment and animal welfare, switch between voices of despair and hope as they contemplate our future. The instrumentation is cinematic – almost Hans Zimmer-like in places – full of crashes and crescendos.
There are some sublime melodies here. Vacillating between guttural growls and spectral whispers, frontman Sam Carter achieves some of his most accomplished vocal work to date on “Giving Blood” and “Flight Without Feathers”. On “Animals”, meanwhile, he positively soars. Thematically and sonically, For Those That Wish to Exist feels limitless. ROC
Alice Cooper – Detroit Stories
Fifty years after his ode to eternal youth “I’m Eighteen” came out, 73-year-old Alice Cooper is not so much a rock’n’roll star as he is bedrock of the genre itself. Pop music might barely give guitars a second look these days, but that’s not Cooper’s concern on his sprawling new LP, Detroit Stories.
Paying homage to Cooper’s Motor City birthplace and featuring collaborations with various members of MC5, Grand Funk Railroad, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and all of the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper Band, Detroit Stories has the shock rocker’s myriad influences on full display. Somehow, it never feels cluttered.
Cooper explores several genres here: there are classic-rock stompers such as “Hail Mary” and a rocked-up cover of Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll” featuring blues guitar great Joe Bonamassa. There’s a touch of R&B and soul in the shape of “$1000 High Heel Shoes”, featuring members of 1970s disco standard bearers Sister Sledge. And lest you thought punk was dead, Cooper reanimates it on the sneering sendoff “I Hate You”: “You’re the king of America, but you’re no Jeff Beck,” he spits.
Rather than phone anything in, Cooper’s clearly making the most of his elder statesman position, finding new ways to freshen up vintage sounds and styles. He’s every bit as durable as the American city he celebrates. RB