Sound — 7
Bring Me the Horizon formed in 2003, originally as a deathcore band - but their sound has changed just a tad. Today, they're more of a pop rock band with some hard rock tendencies. There was a significant change in their sound with the release of their second album, "Suicide Season," but there was still some ground to cover. While touring for the album in 2009, guitarist Curtis Ward left the band due to personality conflicts with the rest of the band, as well as worsening tinnitus, which makes Curtis the only founding member to have left the band. The band's next album, "There Is a Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let's Keep It a Secret." saw the band still clinging fairly closely to a metalcore sound, but the band's original deathcore sound was essentially nonexistent from this point. The band brought Jordan Fish in to play additional keyboards and backing vocals in 2012, and their next album, "Sempiternal," was released in 2013 with a significantly more straightforward pop rock sound, though their metalcore roots could still be heard on the album enough to give their sound a rougher edge. Brendan MacDonald joined the band as a touring member in 2013, and plays rhythm guitar as well as providing backing vocals on "That's the Spirit." The band has continued to have a fairly significant change to their sound with the release of the newest album, which sees the band taking another distancing step from their earlier deathcore and metalcore sound, and more clearly into a pop rock sound. The album contains 11 tracks and has a runtime of approximately 45 minutes. The songs "Drown" and "Throne" have been released as singles from the album.
The album opens with "Doomed," which borrows in vibe a lot from some synthpop contemporaries for the intro, but the choruses have a little bit of grit to them with some distorted guitars and screamed vocals. In a lot of ways the song is a microcosmic look at the album as a whole, with a lot of ideas going on, and mixing of different elements. "Happy Song" has some cheerleaders performing a cheer, but Oliver comes in and sings about faking it till you make it by "sing along/ a little fucking louder/ to a happy song/ I'll be alright." While I'm kind of mystified by the Bring Me The Horizon in a lot of ways, I definitely enjoy "Happy Song." "Throne" calls to mind, pretty immediately, Linkin Park - and this is where me and this album really butt heads - in a lot of ways the band is moving into the audio space of Linkin Park's heyday, which isn't exactly what I was expecting to hear from "That's the Spirit." "True Friends" is one of the heavier tracks on the album, and it has a lot of little moments to enjoy. It definitely seems to have some of the biggest hooks on the album, but I'm guessing it wasn't released as a single due to being a little heavier than the singles released. "Follow You" is one of the lighter songs on the album - this is essentially a love song with the vocal hook being "I will follow you/ because I'm under your spell/ and you can throw me to the flames" or more the repetition of the line "I will follow you." "What You Need" is more of a straightforward rock song, but this track has my absolute favorite lead guitar work from the album, though it is only a brief little piece near the end. "Avalanche" is one of the more forgettable songs on the album for me personally, but it seems to follow guidelines for pop rock pretty closely on this one. "Run" encourages everyone to run away because everything is broken - and it says it all to a sad synth rock track as the background. The chorus is actually one of the better hooks on the album, with a simple and powerful synth melody. "Drown" is a mid tempo rock song that seems to be audio melancholy - so, at least the band is actually successfully expressing the emotions they're going for. "Blasphemy" has a cool vibe going on with the track - it is an engaging song, but like a lot of the album is also very sad. The track "Oh No" closes out the album, and has a really cool "jazz" style instrumental break.
Lyrics — 6
Oliver Sykes has shown that he has a fairly versatile voice, and the backing and sometimes co-lead vocals of Jordan Fish especially fit a lot of the band's newer material. Lee Malia and Brendan MacDonald provide backing vocals as well, which are used tastefully and effectively. I find myself feeling kind of petulant about the band's continued change in sound, and especially the vocals which were more aggressive, and often screamed from the last album. Bring Me The Horizon has essentially defined themselves by their constant change, but the change in the vocals has hit me the hardest - and I would appreciate more aggressive vocals more often on this album. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from the opening track, "Doomed": "Cut off my wings and come lock me up/ Just pull the plug yeah, I've had enough/ Tear me to pieces, sell me for parts/ You're all vampires so here/ You can have my heart/ You can have my heart/ You can have my heart/ The world's a funeral, I run with ghosts/ No hint of movement, no sign of pulse/ Only an echo, just skin and bone/ They kick the chair but we, we help tie the rope." The weird, unfocused, and intense sadness can be a little exhausting. The album is just unrelenting in its sadness, but doesn't really ever explain what the songwriter is sad about - he's just SO sad. If you are going to be narrative with lyrics, then actually tell a story.
Overall Impression — 6
My wife was listening to songs from different points in the band's history with me and she made a comment that hit me pretty profoundly. She said, "If you listen to their discography backwards it sounds like a pop band discovering their metal soul, but when you listen to it in sequential order it sounds like a band losing their soul and becoming pop." That may be a little bit harsh, because I don't hate everything they've done, and a lot of it is actually pretty good, but I can't help but feel like there is a touch of truth to it, as well. I definitely preferred when the band sounded angry instead of sad. If I picked favorite tracks from the album, it would be "Doomed," "Happy Song" and "Blasphemy." I can't help but wonder what the band will sound like by the time they get around to their next album.