On their sixth studio album amo, Bring Me The Horizon venture into sounds they’ve never even considered before; leaving behind metal roots and instead opting for more electronic and experimental sounds. It’s a bold move from a band who seem adamant on being bigger and better, creating their most cohesive and conceptual album to date.
Bring Me The Horizon are a five piece rock band from Sheffield who have gathered cult hero status in their near 15 year stint as an outfit; building an impressive portfolio of loud, in-your-face metalcore through violent guitars from guitarist Lee Malia and piercing falsettos from frontman Oli Sykes. While the success of their first few albums is hailed by rock fans and publications galore, the band always seemed to evade major mainstream acclaim on the level of similar rock bands of the time. That all changed in 2013 with Sempiternal, as well as 2015 with the band’s most successful album up to now; That’s The Spirit.
After a quiet few years, BMTH are back with a bang on their next instalment amo, but it won’t be to everyone’s taste. The band have faced sharp criticism from their loyal fans for ‘selling out’ and making more ‘popular, radio-friendly’ music; but my answer to that is this: We should be so lucky to hear this level of innovation and forward-thinking on national radio. The band’s singles were very well supported, particularly the group’s lead single MANTRA which earned a Grammy nomination; but that takes nothing away from just how great it is. Just because they aren’t stagnating in a genre on life support doesn’t mean they aren’t progressing as a band or making good music. It just so happens that they are doing both of these things.
Rant over, let’s talk about the album itself. Opening with I apologise if you feel something, Oli slithers his autotuned vocals through an eerie electronic instrumental which builds more and more as the song goes. It feels like the start of something big, something commanding and something important; for me it was the perfect way to start the album. Needless to say that following this with the aforementioned MANTRA was a solid choice, hitting you hard with a thrashing guitar riff and a wild drum beat. This felt like the band’s best ever song from the minute I heard it, and that opinion has certainly not changed since the album’s release; a truly mega British rock anthem.
Speaking of rock, the band do still possess that demonic punch on this album which can create a huge atmosphere in the form of jarring synthesisers, speedy drums and imposing guitar chords. The second single wonderful life is a manic mosher of a hit that perhaps speaks for this evil attitude theme on the album better than any other, with Oli proclaiming “nobody cares if I’m dead or alive, oh what a wonderful life” in the chorus. Another thing to mention is the orchestral arrangement in the bridge of this track, giving it a larger than life feel to really rise it up a level.
Tracks like in the dark and fresh bruises follow the suit of the third single medicine in that they do still maintain the typical band structure, but aim for a different sound entirely to the typically loud metal we expect from them. These kinds of tracks offer a more sincere and vulnerable side to not only Oli’s psyche in his lyrical content, but also in the band’s attitudes to the music they make; showing themselves to be fully in control of their own destiny. The intriguing sixth track ouch is a rapid fire interlude-style banger which blew my head off on first listen. For me it is amo and the narrative of it all embodied inside a one minute 49 second stint, sharing a somewhat similar role to that of a How To Draw / Petrichor on The 1975’s last record or The Horn Section from the latest Death Grips album.
Now, I need to talk about this song really, don’t I? When the tracklist was released, one song stuck out to me: nihilist blues. Why I hear you ask? Because it featured Grimes. The idea of Oli Sykes and Grimes competing in a game of screamo tennis like caged animals was too exciting not to hype up. The result of this song was something quite different. Instead we got a bizarre, electronic trance track, brimming with mystique, aurora and downright freakiness. On first listen I labelled this song as Darude – Sandstorm for acid lovers, and while that mindset hasn’t changed much in terms of how it actually sounds in layman’s terms, I have grown to truly appreciate this song. It wasn’t what I hoped it would be, but at least it had genuine direction and dared to be different.
In conclusion, die hard fans will resent this album’s direction, claiming it’s too soft and pop-inspired, but the reality we need to face is that Bring Me The Horizon do this so-called ‘pop’ stuff rather well. The songs are layered well, work as stand-alone tracks as well as in a conceptual format and, above all else, sound good. There are moments where this album lacks a lethal blow, but there is also some of the band’s best material ever on here; That’s The Spirit was the beginning of their rebrand, amo was the fully-fledged receipt.
Listen to amo by Bring Me The Horizon here: