On 12 March 2010, I had my first experience of seeing Architects live. They, along with fellow UK hardcore upstarts Your Demise, were supporting A Day To Remember in Kentish Town. It was one of my earliest gig experiences and, ultimately, one of my favourites to date. My 15 year old self was a huge fan of A Day To Remember, who at this point in their career were still riding high off the release of the sensational Homesick, before becoming the metalcore behemoth that they are today. Your Demise initiated a huge amount of hype as openers, but the whole venue went completely berserk for Architects, a band that I was familiar with, but not a fan of until this night. Leaving that extraordinary performance, I’d spent repeated car journeys immersing myself in their 2009 album, Hollow Crown: a hell-raising onslaught of sensational heavy music, becoming the real start of Architects’ rise to British metal monarchy. To this day, that record is one of my most cherished, for nostalgia purposes certainly, yet also for its raw production, extremely distorted guitar tone, and for being breathtakingly brilliant. As the main songwriter for the band, Tom Searle was therefore one of the biggest influences in my teenage years.
My heavy rotation of Hollow Crown led me to learn countless Searle songs on my guitar. As a novice I was perplexed at the use of a C# Standard tuning (I stupidly broke all of my strings until learning to buy thicker ones) and there was absolutely no chance I was going to nail the tricky riff before the bridge in We’re All Alone. In essence, Tom Searle made me not only a better guitarist, but more importantly an avid fan of British metal music. Whilst all the big guns of the scene were from the US or Australia, Architects would be touring their home country relentlessly to establish themselves as forerunners in heavy music, along with counterparts Bring Me The Horizon or While She Sleeps for instance. In fact, I was fortunate enough to see Tom and Architects live again in 2011 with the aforementioned BMTH, Parkway Drive, and The Devil Wears Prada; a line-up I look back on with fondness as the greatest collection of metal bands in Brixton there has ever been and ever will be. Once again, the UK crowd went berserk for Architects (perhaps even more so than my last experience) and it was phenomenal. The band were establishing themselves worldwide whilst remaining an absolute treasure to British fans, and when Tom sadly passed away aged merely 28 on 20th August 2016 after his battle with melanoma for over three years, tributes for Tom came from virtually every band in the scene. Tom had clearly touched and influenced many other musicians that he had toured with year after year, and his death is a devastating loss to the metal community.
“Without musicians such as Tom Searle, the musical discovery in my teenage years would perhaps not have happened at all”
Having been in bands with his twin brother Dan since the age of 13, Tom’s impact on British music has been built from the ground up. His dedication to get his music heard is evident in the fact that Architects have spent most of their lives taking their instruments everywhere and crushing venues with their extraordinary sound. Even whilst at his weakest in the last couple of years, battling his horrific disease, Tom was resilient enough to continue playing some of the band’s largest festival shows. He was clearly doing exactly what he loved and nothing was stopping him from performing his songs for the many adoring Architects fans. His songwriting ability has certainly gone underappreciated due to the underground nature of his music scene, but Tom had never been one to deviate from his heavy roots. Admirably, Tom and the rest of the band are fairly scathing of their more commercial hits on 2011’s The Here and Now, returning to the style of Hollow Crown in the last three albums. Daybreaker was a tour de force and Lost Forever // Lost Together finally cemented the band as the masters of UK metal, selling well and just generally being a badass album. Almost exactly five years since my first Architects gig, I saw them again at The Roundhouse as part of the biggest crowd that they had ever had. Seeing vocalist Sam Carter crying at the show’s end displayed the band’s admiration for what they do, and it was truly humbling to see how far they had deservedly come in the space of five years. Transforming from young hardcore go-getters to a masterful metal unit, Architects are one of my most valued bands. It’s unbelievably sad knowing that if or when I see them live again, the backbone of their sound, Tom Searle, will not be there headbobbing to breakdowns or finger-tapping his guitar with aplomb.
Of course, I did not know Tom personally, but the support for his family and bandmates from fans and musicians the world over shows how much he was adored by many, and the impact he had in such an incredible musical community. The band have stated that they will continue their planned live shows in honour of their friend, a tough task, but it will undoubtedly unite the band and their fans like never before. I also sincerely hope that they will continue to make music, as they have stated they will only do so if they “truly believe that it is something that Tom would have been proud of.” Their latest album, All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, remains one of my favourite releases of 2016, and has become even more poignant as Tom’s last work of art. The eight-minute closer Memento Mori serves as his magnum opus, its title translating to ‘be mindful of death’, a true statement to Tom Searle’s stoicism during his battle with cancer. He has left behind an insanely consistent collection of heavy tunes that I will love forever, as well as many a hilarious interview during his time in Architects, delivering tongue-in-cheek responses in a David Brent-esque manner. What a man.
Without musicians such as Tom Searle, the musical discovery in my teenage years would perhaps not have happened at all. I certainly wouldn’t have been playing music, or even writing music-based articles like this one. RIP Tom Searle, a true artist that has influenced myself as well as an entire scene; a feat that few others can claim to have done. Thank you for the music.