Bring Me The Horizon spent their last two albums breaking from the shackles of the generic Metalcore and Deathcore they were peddling in their early material in search of a more mature sound. Sempiternal marked a point where they struck a balance between melody, some of the better elements from their early material and some Electronic dabblings. It was such a successful formula that it won them a whole new fanbase from Pop-Punk fans and some people outside of the Kerrang readership alike. It wasn’t a perfect album and they certainly seemed to be aiming for angsty teenagers’ bedrooms with their lyrics, but it showed a lot of potential.
The lead single for their new album ‘Drown’ was a sign of things to come, with BMTH going further down a more accesible road, which is okay by itself – Oli Sykes has never been that good at screaming anyway. As long as they could keep musical proficiency and hopefully up their game lyrically to create some emotionally engaging material, it’s a sound that have done wonders for them.
Lyrically ‘That’s The Spirit’ is probably BMTH’s most cliché ridden trip yet. Oli Sykes has said that ‘That’s The Spirit’ is a ‘celebration of depression’ (something we all know needs glamorising in the most haphazard way possible) and it utilises the shout at your mum-esque lyrics from ‘Sempiternal’ (‘middle fingers up! If you don’t give a fuck!’) and decides to dumb them down further. ‘You make me want to slit my wrists and play in my own blood’ Sykes sings passionately on ‘What You Need’ like it’s the edgiest thing to ever be said on a record. ‘Happy song’ almost cleverly mocks how people tell you to cheer up when you’re suffering from depression in a stiff upper lip type way, but the punch of the topic is lost because the song itself is a mess with the verses flying by so quickly (as do so many others on here) in order to get that sing-along anthemic chorus with the cringe-inducing over-the-top swearing and massive guitar lines that don’t actually do much other than linger in the background into kicking effect. The song sounds like the sort of fake anger we had coming out of the early 2000s with all of the Nu-Metal bands. Not only that but the song lacks the oomph to actually stick with you until the last 30 seconds or so when things get interesting. It’s also a song that you can imagine sounding a whole lot better in a love setting.
The lyrics extremely rarely approach depression in a way that’s thought-provoking, compelling or even as something to relate to. A lot of the time they merely dumb the lyrics down in order to try to get some memorable punchlines, which is a shame considering the potential for an emotional exorcism from Oli Sykes who’s experienced plenty of negative things in his life. On the song that aims to be an anti-bullying anthem ‘Throne’, they throw out overly simple lines begging to sound poetic like ‘I was an ocean, lost in the open/ Nothing could take the pain away’,’Throw me to the wolves/ Tomorrow I will come back leader of the whole pack’ and ‘The sticks and the stones that you used to throw have built me an empire’ there’s these sorts of broad lyrical lines in nearly every track. ‘True Friends stab you in the front’, ‘I need a cure for me because a circle doesn’t fit a square’ and ‘Don’t sugarcoat me, cause I feel like suicide’ to name a few more. Even on some of the best tracks like ‘Drown’ they’re littered with them ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you wish you were dead’ Sykes opens the song with. There are occasionally times when Sykes addresses his past drug addiction with since real sincerity like on the songs ‘Oh No’ and ‘Avalanche’ but it’s unfortunately ruined by the fact they’re such a forgettable songs. There’s so much potential in what Oli Sykes often wants to express in his lyrics but they’re dealt with so unflatteringly and the compositions themselves don’t compliment any of the music’s themes.
Aside from the exceptionally basic lyrics, BMTH have upped the electronic side of their sound even further with the help of their keyboardist Jordan Fish. The electronic elements themselves can be quite interesting at points like the frantic synths on the opening seconds of ‘Throne’ (before the song essentially turns into ‘Faint’ by Linkin park) or the pulsating synths on ‘Run’ that lend an interesting angle to their song-writing. On the vast majority of this album Bring Me The Horizon sound like they’ve fully embraced Alt-Rock and have abandoned Metal all together (‘Happy Song’ is the only song on here that sound remotely like a metal song). This is a welcome change since Oli’s scream has long been mocked for not being powerful enough. But on this album he doesn’t do much to prove that he’s a good singer when he’s not screaming either. His vocals can either sound impassioned like on ‘Run’ and ‘Drown’ or they can fall completely flat sounding lifeless when he breaks into his falsetto like on the opening track ‘Doomed’ or the song that literally sounds like it could have been written by Keane because it’s so cutesy and basic – the flimsy ‘Follow You’.
Other moments of actual interest in the instrumentation are far and few between like the opening guitar tones on ‘What You Need’ which actually sounds like it could have come from a Post-Rock song before it goes into the typically dull soaring early-2000s-Alt-Rock guitar lines that so much of this album harvests. Perhaps the best thing that Bring Me The Horizon did on this album was keep their drummer at the forefront of the mixing with his technical ability on the kit outweighing anything else on the album. He’ll often create grooves in the mixing that stick even when the rest of the instrumentation does nothing to back it up other than linger lifelessly in the background like on ‘Avalanche – he’s the glue that seems to hold this band together. Perhaps it’s the fact that they decided to drown so much of the instrumentation drowned in reverb and effects that it lacks any sort of power behind it.
Aside from that, you’re going to hear an awful lot of comparisons to Linkin Park and 30 Seconds To Mars when people talk about this album, and that’s because more than ever, Bring Me The Horizon sound distinctively dated; they’re doing very little new with this sound and the moments where they do come up with some ideas they’re often pushed right to the background where they’re barely audible any more. I would say this album is a risk stylistically, but the anthemic nature of these songs that sound like they come from the era they do still gets swallowed up by the masses so easily. At this point, Bring Me The Horizon can do whatever they want because this album will grant them the commercial success to do so, but if they truly want to progress as a band into making mature music like they say they do, they should stop trying to sound like a remnant of the past and seriously focus on the lyrical content of their music. They’re talented musicians capable of so much more than what they’re putting out and although this is a big change for them, it feels like the band already need another musical reinvention. Perhaps they should embrace the Electronic side of their music more fully rather than dabbling in both Alt-Rock and Electronic and coming out on this awkward middle ground.
DISCLAIMER: I still believe this band have the potential to one day be great, this really isn’t it though.
Best Songs: Drown, Run
Worst Songs: Doomed, Happy Song, Follow You, Follow You, Follow You, Blasphemy