[Editor’s note: You can also read Hana Simons’s review of Bring Me the Horizon’s song “True Friends” here.]
When taking a trip through Bring Me The Horizon’s catalog, it’s not too hard to notice the style changes the band has undergone. Beginning with the deathcore, Count Your Blessings, Bring Me The Horizon have come a long way to get to their polished, hard rock sound. For many early fans, the band’s latest release, That’s The Spirit, may feel like a little bit of a betrayal.
In fact, Bring Me The Horizon’s previous release, Sempiternal, was most likely an act of disloyalty. Featuring the most drastic change in sound between albums, Sempiternal nearly abandoned the harsh screams, the heavy, intricate guitars, and the pulse-pounding drums. Instead, the introduction of keyboardist, Jordan Fish, allowed for electronic experimentation. Vocalist Oli Sykes mellowed out his growl, giving the English five-piece a chance at writing more melodic songs. This change was enough to draw me in as a fan, and with That’s The Spirit, it is clear they are willing to keep me.
That’s The Spirit runs in the same vein as Sempiternal, but takes the progression even further. Sykes foreshadowed the most notable change from previous albums in his 2014 Alternative Press Music Awards (APMA) speech. “When I got out of that rehab, I didn’t wanna f—— scream anymore; I wanted to sing it through the rooftops, and it’s all thanks to you. So thank you very much.” On That’s The Spirit, Sykes follows through with his promise as he sings the majority of every song. It’s easy to understand why this would frighten some; the band has been treated to major success such as selling out a headlining show at Wembley Arena (12,500 capacity) largely due to the vocalist’s unique style.
Surprisingly, Oli Sykes’ singing isn’t just acceptable; it’s downright impressive. “Doomed” begins with an eerie, electronic soft build up. The calm vocals cycle in a haunting fashion. Its effects are mesmerizing. The track progresses into a cynical, heavier chorus and that is when it happens. The scratchy, emotional vocals flow into a smooth falsetto, “I think we’re doomed.” From that moment on I knew the album would be nothing but a treat. “Follow You,” “Avalanche,” and “Oh No” are other tracks that truly let Sykes’ vocal reinvention shine. Sykes is not the only one who has changed either. “Happy Song” and “What You Need” feature a previously unseen, strong guitar and bass groove that carries each track. “Throne” even shows that drummer, Matt Nichols, is as rhythmic as he’s ever been, adapting to the band’s change perfectly.
The album isn’t only fascinating musically. That’s The Spirit almost functions as a concept album and a wonderfully cynical one at that. Many of the songs on the record reiterate that we are all doomed, life isn’t fair, it’s tough and you just have make the best of it. Songs like “Happy Song” and “True Friends” take a sarcastic approach. The former casually shrugs off deeper problems with a simpler cheerful tune. Meanwhile, the latter accepts the fact that friends are going to hurt you, but notes that it’s better to be “stabbed in the front” rather than in the back. “Throne” even encourages a little betrayal as it taunts, “throw me to the wolves, tomorrow I will come back leader of the whole pack.” The dark content is oddly hopeful, or at least satisfied with its stance. The album only falls to despair in “Drown” and “Avalanche,” but the metaphors and stories are so relatable, they assist in the act of searching for contentment in a poor situation.
Ultimately, Bring Me The Horizon’s latest effort stands out among the rest; whether “the rest” is their catalog or anyone else’s. It’s the band’s most musically cohesive work and the lyrical concept is unmatched. As a fan of the band’s more recent records, it would be hard to not be proud of the Sheffield boys’ latest and even harder not to fall in love with it.