Bring Me The Horizon
That’s The Spirit
11 September 2015, Sony
Bring Me The Horizon have transformed dramatically since they burst onto the scene in extremely skinny jeans with 2006’s deathcore-infused Count Your Blessings, evolving their screamo sound on 2008’s Suicide Season and 2010’s There Is A Hell. In 2013, the band reached their creative pinnacle with the utterly brilliant Sempiternal, perfecting their metalcore sound and increasing radio accessibility through the incorporation of electronica at the hands of keyboard extraordinaire Jordan Fish. With That’s The Spirit, the band’s first self-produced release, Horizon has taken yet another step into the unknown. For this alone they deserve respect, for the mark of all truly great bands is their ability to take risks and develop their sound with each creative output. However, the more relevant question arises: is it any good?
Sempiternal boasted the biggest anthems of Horizon’s career; preparing to delve into this record, listeners will undoubtedly question whether they can rival the likes of ‘Can You Feel My Heart‘ and ‘Shadow Moses‘. However, this album simply adds to the arsenal of bangers Horizon can detonate live. ‘Throne’ and ‘Drown’ possess choruses that the globe’s largest arenas would struggle to contain and the incredibly catchy ‘True Friends’ and late-album delight ‘Blasphemy’ will incite mosh pits large enough to decimate festivals.
In fact, that is the joy of this record: where previous songs have been aimed almost exclusively at inciting walls of death, That’s The Spirit’s tracks will throw hands to the sky as fans scream out those choruses as much as they will create carnage. Furthermore, if anyone was worried a more melodic Horizon would produce lukewarm concerts, one only had to witness them unleash the album’s first single, ‘Happy Song’, with its sarcastic, Faith No More inspired cheerleader chant, at Reading and Leeds this summer. An album of ‘Chelsea Smiles’ this may not be, but Horizon still pack a mighty punch.
bring me the Horizon have always been the marmite group of metal
Musically, That’s The Sprit is forward-thinking, textured and unique, a feat difficult to achieve in the over-saturated music scene of 2015. Violins, saxophones, orchestras and choirs all feature to develop Horizon’s soundscape. Shockingly, there is minimal screaming, with lead singer Oli Sykes’s clean vocals driving the album, utilising ethereal melodies similar to the Deftones. It also furthers the electronic element brought to Sempiternal, adding Ibiza-beats to riffing. Such a thought sends a shudder through fifteen-year-old me, who loved the sheer brutality of screamo-era Horizon. But, twenty-year-old me loves the results. The album will certainly be a grower for long-term fans, but once one recognises that the Horizon of 2015 and that of 2008 are two separate entities, one can fully enjoy the album and appreciate its brilliance.
Unlike the disposable pop music plaguing radio, Horizon deliver incredibly personal lyrics dealing with issues pertinent to society’s youth. This is best exemplified on the record’s stand-out track, ‘Avalanche‘, which documents Sykes’s battles with ADHD; the lyrics are striking, leaving a lump in the throat: “Am I broken, what’s the chance I will survive?”
The music may be softer, but Sykes’s lyrics remain macabre and scathing. For instance in ‘What You Need’: “You make me want to slit my wrists and play in my own blood” and in ‘Doomed’: “They kick the chair but we, we help tie the rope”. The record’s ethos is that life is not all smiles, and that rather than ignore the depressing reality of existence, we embrace it. Horizon will resonate with those battling demons and, if their past album trajectory is anything to go by, will remain their ethos for many years to come.
Horizon have always been the marmite group of metal, with every devoted fan being matched by a hater. Their shift to a pop-rock sound will surely exacerbate this divide and while the majority of the album is magnificent, there are some minor issues, which mean Sempiternal remains this writer’s favourite of Horizon’s back catalogue. For example, the album closer, ‘Oh No’, is an anti-clubbing track, and while admiring the sentiment and its attempt to parody the music it criticises, its execution is a little too One Direction. That said, taking risks in altering their sound is admirable and renders all the one-dimensional metalcore bands playing boring, predictable breakdowns redundant.
Overall, the answer to this review’s opening question is a definitive YES. Are Bring Me The Horizon the band of 2015? Quite possibly…