Bring Me The Horizon – amo
Released: January 25th, 2019
Oli Sykes // Lead Vocals, Keyboards & Programming
Lee Malia // Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Matt Kean // Bass Guitar
Mat Nicholls // Drums
Jordan Fish // Keyboards, Vocals, Percussion
Its been just over three years since Bring Me The Horizon released their impressive, genre-crossing album That’s The Spirit upon the world and if you thought that was different for the Sheffield lads, you ain’t heard nothing yet, son. This new offering takes everything you think you know about the band, turns it on its head and dropkicks it out of the heavy music genre and into a diverse blend of EDM, synth and pop rock that is so far removed from the band’s past, but somehow, in a strange way, works… bare with me here.
Remember how frontman Oli Sykes trolled fans into thinking the band were going to be included on Justin Bieber‘s 2016 Purpose Tour through the UK? Well, it’s kind of like he/they have taken that joke seriously and gone down the path to see what happens, but realistically, they’ve been progressing towards something like this since the Sempiternal album cycle finished.
If you’re a fan that can appreciate anything a band releases because of your connection to the music, lyrics and the band members themselves, you’ll probably get a kick out of this. If you’ve come here looking for heavy elements of Suicide Season, There Is A Hell… and even That’s The Spirit, well, as the meme goes, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Don’t get me wrong, there are very vague hints of the band’s previously heavy side which is evident in songs like ‘MANTRA‘, ‘wonderful life‘ and ‘heavy metal‘, but the majority of the rest of the album sees the band exploring electronic synth-pop-rock vibes akin to that of twenty one pilots and kinda/sorta The Amity Affliction‘s latest offering Misery. In saying that, I can see why the guys would want to try and bring in a few hundred thousand more fans by appealing to a larger audience in that regard, the twenty one pilots lads have been leading the charge with their unique, unmatched blend of rap, rock, soft metal pop for years and not one other band has attempted to tackle what they’re doing. Can BMTH be the first band to outdo them or at least give them a run for their money? Well, that’s the funny part because yes, 100% they absolutely could.
Opening track ‘i apologise if you feel something‘ sets up the mood and feel of what’s ahead of with a bopping synth fx, alluring clean vocals which are very produced and almost unrecognisable to old listeners (I can’t tell if it’s Oli or Jordan Fish), but that goes out the window once ‘MANTRA‘ kicks in. This, for older fans (and newer), is the party starter, this will be the song that gets everyone jumping singing and screaming in unison at live shows in future years. It’s so hard to fault it because it has all the elements we loved from the previous album with a dash of some new progression. Lee Malia‘s guitar work is very noice, Oli’s clean and yelling vocals are on point and even Mat Nicholls scores a nod from me for his drum work. ‘nihilist blues‘ is the album’s first song to feature a guest vocalist in Grimes and another example of how far left the band have taken their direction. Its upbeat and reminds me of my techno phase (urgh please no) where I’d listen to DJs like Underworld, Tiesto and even as far as The Prodigy (who used to blend EDM and rock very well back in their day). I’m not up to date with Grimes, but she adds an almost spiritual female voice to a song that’s overproduced with synth and lacking guitars. If you’re at Stereosonic or Tomorrowland or something like that in future years and this comes on, it realllly won’t sound or feel out of place. Not for me, but in saying that, it’s kinda catchy.
‘in the dark‘ brings us back to band land for a pop-rock mainstream tune with lots of cleans, keys and a stripped back guitar. Within a couple of spins, I’m hooked! It just has that way of bringing you in to sing along and nod your head to the beat. I don’t get much energy from it though, so I’d struggle to see how this one would go in a live setting!? Maybe its the song you listen to when running to the bar, but in terms of getting you pumped up, it’s not one of those kinds of songs. ‘wonderful life‘ brings in help from Cradle of Filth frontman Dani Filth for (arguably) the album’s heaviest song which gives a tongue-in-cheek look at what bands/musicians get up to when they’re not doing exciting things like touring or travelling. The chorus which reads “alone getting high on a Saturday night/I’m on the edge of a knife/nobody cares if I’m dead or alive/oh what a wonderful life” can and will be read/sung/yelled by anyone for its sheer relatability and you can’t help but sing along when it’s playing around you. With a full brass section unleashed towards the end of it, this stadium rock anthem will become the band’s new ‘Chelsea Smile‘, ‘Throne‘ or ‘Shadow Moses‘ in years to come.
‘ouch‘ is next and we’re back again with the EDM influenced stuff from earlier in what I’m going to call fast-paced elevator music. It’s another no from me, sorry. Onto ‘medicine‘ though and this is much more appealing, blending pop rock and synth with loud thumping bass drum beats, but leaning more towards the rock side of the combination. In a weird way, this sounds like a new-age “fuck you/break up” song with the lyrical content of “some people are a lot like clouds you know/cuz lifes so much brighter when they go” even as far as the chorus which will have you belting out “you need a taste of your own medicine/cuz I’m sick to death of swallowing/watch me take the wheel like you/not feel like you/act like nothing’s real like you”. There’s a sound to this I feel like I’ve heard before too, but I can’t put my finger on who or what it was, I’ll come back to that. Up next we’ve got ‘sugar honey ice & tea‘ which brings the riffffs back again and if you’re a fan of ‘wonderful life‘, you’ll love this just as much as they’re both fairly similar in style, except for the higher pitched produced vocals at the chorus. There’s one minor scream just before a fancy guitar solo (which in the olden days would have been a breakdown) so that should keep you happily chucking that one on repeat. ‘why you gotta kick me when i’m down‘ takes the idea of genre-crossing and just chucks everything in the blender to see what happens. I’m not big on the new-age rap phase but there are elements of that with Oli’s fast sing/rapping, there’s synth, large stadium rock feels and enough beats to beat the Beatles with… I think over time this has the potential to grow on you, but it may take more than just two or three spins. It’s not terrible, but it’s not groundbreaking. ‘fresh bruises‘ is an experimental, semi-instrumental synth beat filler track… it has to be. The lyrics “don’t you try to fuck with me/don’t you hide your love” are muffled and repeated over and over again throughout and that’s about the extent of it. I don’t think this one will grow on me either, next!
‘mother tongue‘ on the other hand is great and sounds like a proper song created by each and every member of the band (again). The drums are loud and plentiful, Oli’s voice is catchy and addictive (Jordan’s higher notes save him) and you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a B-Side from the band’s That’s The Spirit recording sessions as it’s very similar to tracks like ‘Follow You‘, ‘Run‘ and ‘Doomed‘, except with a more upbeat tempo. ‘heavy metal‘ is next and for those of you (myself included) who have ever criticised the band for moving away from their heavier metal roots, this is their “fuck you, eat me” song to us. Not only have they brought back some heavier riffs and synth from back in the day, but they’ve included lyrics about people/former fans saying “they don’t love me [the band] anymore” and “…a kid on the gram in a black dahlia [murder] tank says it ain’t heavy metal” but do they care? Nope, they’re too busy trying “to do a head count” [at shows] and it’s just some beautifully worded lyrics which not only stab deep, but twist the knife while it’s in there. Surprisingly, the inclusion of rapper Rahzel really works adding a smoother, out of place (but welcomed) voice who also drops a bit of beatboxing while he’s at it. If you didn’t love/hate the song enough, the final chorus changes ever so slightly to include the words “so I keep picking petals/all I wanna know do you love me anymore/cuz some kid on the gram said he used to be a fan but this shit ain’t heavy metal” before erupting into a heavy as fuck climax complete with a very minor scream that just teases you and leaves you wanting more. Well played BMTH, well played…
‘i don’t know what to say‘ rounds up the album beginning with a string section which leads into an acoustic guitar with Oli’s signature voice before taking us on a music acid trip through so. many. fucking. different. genres. it’s hard to keep up. Seriously at some point, it sounded like the song could have been used in the latest remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (when they’re going through that boat tunnel), its really fucking good. Its a fantastic example of this band’s progression and musicianship and how well the bounce off each other. This is how you do an album’s climax, taking pieces of everything you’ve just put on offer for the listener and combining it together for one final send-off until the next piece of new music. The strings and synth work so well together you’d be forgiven for closing your eyes and imagining yourself at a dramatic ballet performance, its one of the first times I’ve felt something through music, without the use of lyrics or vocals… and it’s a fucking Bring Me The Horizon song!
Well, that was certainly an experience I never thought I’d ever have listening to a Bring Me The Horizon album, but for what it’s worth, the guys have attempted to try something completely different and out of their usual comfort zone and still managed to hit the mark with some key aspects of the release, minus a couple of bumps along the way. If they’re appealing to a new market, they’ll fit right in with some of the electro-pop rock bands getting around right now, the kids will love it as they say. If you came along somewhere in the middle of their career, you’ll appreciate it for what it is too. But, if you’ve come here expecting another Pray for Plagues or Suicide Season, it’s probably best you stick to those releases and stay clear of this.
Bring Me The Horizon – amo tracklisting
1. i apologise if you feel something
3. nihilist blues feat. Grimes
4. in the dark
5. wonderful life feat. Dani Filth
8. sugar honey ice & tea
9. why you gotta kick me when i’m down?
10. fresh bruises
11. mother tongue
12. heavy metal feat. Rahzel
13. i don’t know what to say