Sound — 7
Bring Me The Horizon formed in 2004 from members of several recently dissolved local bands in Yorkshire, and were immediately signed as the first band to Thirty Days of Night Records. They recorded their first EP in 2004, but did not gain any significant attention for it until it was re-released by Visible Noise in 2005. They released their first full length album, "Count Your Blessings", in 2006 and then won the Kerrang! Award the same year for Best British Newcomer. From there their career began to grow and they received gigs supporting bigger acts on tour, including Killswitch Engage. There has been a lot of hate for Bring Me The Horizon, as well, with many people thinking the band was too musically cheesy or were more like metalcore/deathcore painting by numbers. With each new release Bring Me The Horizon has taken another step away from that stereotype. They have gone on to win additional Kerrang! Awards, as well as being nominated for multiple AIM Independent Music Awards. With the release of Sempiternal, they've also lost their rhythm guitarist Jona Weinhofen, and gained keyboardist Jordan Fish. This is also their first release on RCA.
When Bring Me The Horizon first came out I wasn't really digging what they did and quit paying attention to them for the most part. With the video for "Alligator Blood" a few years ago I thought I could enjoy them more than when they first came out and started paying attention again. Now with the release of "Sempiternal" I'm really enjoying what I hear, but not everyone will. They no longer have a rhythm guitarist, though Lee Malia does remain on lead guitar. There is much more keyboard/synth thanks to the addition of Jordan Fish. They still have a predominantly "metalcore" sound, but they have added in a lot of ambient passages in their songs and have minimized the heavy breakdowns. The vocals don't get anywhere near a death metal growl on this new album. There is actually occasionally a little bit of melody (just a touch) in their songs which hasn't really been there before now. To me, this release is so far away from where Bring Me The Horizon started you have to listen to it fresh to really appreciate what it is and what they're doing. There are 11 tracks on the standard edition of the album with a runtime of 45 minutes, or the deluxe edition which adds three additional tracks.
Lyrics — 7
Oliver Sykes is definitely doing his job a little bit differently these days. There is very rarely any type of "death metal" growls, but instead he sings (occasionally) mostly clean or in the realm of "hardcore" or "metalcore" screaming. The internet assures me that he hasn't damaged his voice, but instead has chosen this change in his vocal delivery for creative reasons. They still occasionally use gang vocals on this album, and this seems to be one of the elements that has remained mostly unchanged since they started using it. The addition of Jordan Fish on backing vocals (in addition to his keyboard work) is mostly unnoticeable but occasionally really shines. I personally enjoy the change in vocal delivery, but this will be the thing that loses some listeners.
The lyrics are almost a continuation of the ideas from their last album, "There Is A Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is A Heaven, Let's Keep It A Secret". There is a lot of anti-religious fury going on. From the song "The House Of Wolves" as an example: "Show me a sign/ show me a reason to give/ a solitary f--k/ about your god damn beliefs/ I'm going blind/ but one thing's clear/ death is the only/ salvation you fear." Then occasionally they express a different type of sentiment like on the song "Hospitals For Souls": "and then I found out how hard it is to really change/ even hell can get comfy once you've settled in/ I just wanted the numb inside me to leave/ no matter how f--ked you get/ there's always hell when you come back down/ the funny thing is all I ever wanted I already had/ there's glimpses of heaven in everything/ in the friends that I have/ the music I make/ the love that I feel/ I just had to start again." Some of the lyrics do seem to encourage self analysis and I can definitely appreciate that.
Overall Impression — 7
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this album because while I like some hardcore and metalcore music, it is a very casual interest for me. The use of the keyboards to create ambient passages in the songs, as well as the gang vocals and Oliver Sykes' hardcore/metalcore delivery have created something that is so far very intriguing to me. My favorite songs on the album are "Can You Feel My Heart", "Shadow Moses" and "Hospitals For Souls". My least favorite song is "The House Of Wolves" but I recognize that this is a matter of personal taste and not quality. I would like to mention that there is supposedly some contention on whether Jona Weinhofen was involved in the writing or recording of the album, but as far as I know he is not credited on the album in any respect. I like that it doesn't seem you know what you're going to get with a release from Bring Me The Horizon as their sound so far has changed fairly quickly. I'm eager to see what their next release brings.