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ARCHIVES: No Bliss In Ignorance

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June 7

Northern Irish metalcore outfit Archives are preparing to drop their new album No Bliss In Ignorance on June 7, and with an upcoming interview with the band and knowing how short an Irish person’s temper is I thought it high time I had a listen so I at least sound like I know what I’m talking about.

Opening with Death Dealers and a swirling intro piece, Archives soon turn up the heat as vocalist Adam Holland menaces the microphone and we are away. Chunky, stuttering guitars scatter the landscape before a slightly drawn-out note is the catalyst for which Holland resumes hostilities.

The drumming is frenetic and relentless and almost inhuman such is the speed and precision, laying a menacing landscape of contempt that generates much of Archives’ momentum. There’s moments of tranquillity as everything pulls back and the screams turn into a whisper, but you suspect this is only a brief interlude while Archives recover their breath in readiness for a final onslaught.

Which comes in irrepressive fashion. This is an angry and pissed-off track, the perfect way to start an album.

Sharkpit explodes from the water next with a mass of drums and guitar with minor sonic explosions adding an extra layer of venom. Holland blasts in with a more of a rapid-fire rap-type delivery – but still in his extremely metal way. There’s a few harmonies going on here that further explore the intricacies of the band but it’s a vocal breakdown of sorts that really gets the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention.

The guitar riff that fluctuates throughout is devilishly provocative and provides ample breathing room for the succession of cleaner vocals that are layered around the hostility. You can hear the metalcore influences, but rather than have the soft/harsh interplay in separate verses or choruses, Archives cleverly blend them together for the most part which doesn’t allow for them to become isolated or too precious.

Self-Inflicted begins with the rhythmic grace of a second hand on a clock ticking before Holland puts an end to the sands of time with a quick blast of anger that ushers in a wall of drums and guitars. He doesn’t take long to make his sonic imprint on the track, barking and commanding presence while a maelstrom of activity swirls around him.

The cleaner vocals resurface for parts of the chorus but are met each time with renewed venom that seemingly puts them back in their place. Archives are definitely further to the hardcore side of metal than they are metalcore but I guess every band needs a label, right? There’s even a hint of electronics in this track that would normally sound completely out of place in this type of music but here they add yet another layer to proceedings without being obtrusive or distracting.

No Sweat is next and starts with a whimsical and dreary, softly delivered vocal intro atop tempered guitars and little else. But Archives are having none of this and before I even think about skipping what starts like the token album ballad they turn things on their head with a ferocious changing of tempo.

After the initial tirade some clean vocals slip in and restore a semblance of order but as soon as the double kicks find their feet all bets are once more off as Holland wages an unseen war with an overwhelmed foe as he sets about dismantling the system from the inside.

The softer vocals surface sporadically in an almost angelic notion that for some reason doesn’t seem too wishy-washy amidst the sonic carnage. Archives offer subtle segues from chaos into serenity, seamlessly creating opposing passages of music to signify intent without ever making the chasm too wide or insurmountable.

Not an easy thing to do.

Make No Mistake opens with a brief piano passage before glitching to a sudden close and giving way to a sustained and confrontational vocal tirade from Holland that commands attention. The cleans come to the fore once more for the chorus and I have to admit they are starting to become more prominent – perhaps a touch too much for my liking. Not enough yet to make me re-evaluate my respect thus far for No Bliss In Ignorance but we are only at the halfway point…

This song rescues itself emphatically in the second half as Holland and guest vocalist Benji Mars (Waterlines) embark on a two-man mission of carnage so let’s move on to The Easy Way Out and see where it leads.

A distorted, but deliberate note rings out with a calming sonic exterior that is interrupted by a rapid drum fill and echoed vocals of sorts that sound as though they are laced in regret.

Things intensify rapidly as what was once calm and serenious now becomes dark and menacing and filled with pain. But not the type of pain that is celebrated in a whiny fashion, but rather one that is best served by allowing the inner anger a voice of reason. And that voice just happens to be authoritative and spiteful – the best way to deal with sorrow in the metal music realm.

Mournful cleans surface sporadically but never become the focus which restores my faith in Archives. Not that I suspect they give a fuck either way because they do what they do well and for the most part sound like they don’t give a fuck what myself, or anyone else thinks.

Bless their cotton socks.

Catharsis offers a bit of static before the drums force their way in and set up an opening for Holland to force his way into things. After a bout of cleans in what I’m guessing is the chorus things once more get nasty, with Holland showcasing a more controlled aggression with some spoken lyrics that seem to be goading forth a musical beast that pounces at the opportunity to engage.

The clean chorus continues throughout, but the opposing whispered forces of evil are constantly on hand to offer an opposing view that doesn’t allow things to become overly emotional. Finding that balance must be difficult as fuck and I know for a fact Archives are doing a much better job at it than I would.

Matriarch opens with an echoing sense of menace that kicks in swiftly as Archives get back to doing what they do best. Absolutely annihilating anything and everything in their path. This song is full of contempt and snarling anger, ferocious drums and stuttering guitars setting the tone for a blood-drenched battle of epic proportions.

There’s a touch of electronics sporadically appearing throughout, but these just add cause and effect to the background, offering a slight distraction from the bludgeoning surroundings. The song also features a stack of timing and tempo changes that somehow manage to add substance to the track despite the eclectic sounds of confusion it creates.

This song is tough as fuck and my pick of the album thus far.

Liquid Love Affair has a steady, subdued intro with a measured dose of electronics laced with electrics. A forceful drum pattern does its best to coax the song into more aggressive territory, which it eventually does in a blaze of chaotic intent. Holland screams and menaces to varying degress on this track, ccassionally dragged into calmer waters by a deliberate softening of guitars. But only for a brief moment.

This track is a blazing pit of ferocity that violently opposes each and every attempt to soften the edges. It is that frenetic and consuming things snap to a close before I even fully digest what is happening, leaving me with the final track, Injustice.

The gentle strains of the ocean tide lead us into a false sense of security that is soon engulfed by the fire that burns eternally within Archives as Holland refuses to go out with a whimper. Cleans return for part of the chorus, but these are short-lived as the harsher vocals quickly assume control and dominate the landscape.

I have hardly understood anything Holland has sung about over the album’s ten tracks, but the beauty of this music is that means fuck all in the scheme of things. What I do know is he has a lot of anger to purge and he does so with aplomb on No Bliss In Ignorance.

Let’s just hope he stays angry for the foreseeable future because the world definitely needs more music like this.

Pre-order No Bliss In Ignorance here: https://archivesmusic.bigcartel.com/product/no-bliss-in-ignorance-album-preorder

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