Bring Me The Horizon – Post Human: Survival Horror EP Review

Bring Me The Horizon have had an interesting career. They started off as a very uncommercial, noisy, sloppy Deathcore band with screams, screeches and murderous lyrics. People covering that sort of music at the time basically laughed them out of the room though. It wasn’t pretty.

Then they evolved into one of the best British Metalcore bands in the scene for several years, releasing well crafted and memorable albums like Suicide Season, There Is A Hell’ and Sempiternal. Their audiences got bigger and bigger, but so did the backlash, the internet and magazines were awash with anti-BMTH sentiment. All the negativity, critical bashing and internet comment-section abuse eventually alienated the band from the Metal community, and they seemed to decided if they’re going to be called sell-outs or “not metal” anyway, they may as well go with it and seek a more mainstream radio audience.

Their next two albums, That’s The Spirit and Amo were much more commercial, pop-music-infused, modern, melodic, and autotuned. It definitely turned off some of their early audience, but it gained them a whole new audience and mainstream approval, allowing them to go on TV shows Metal fans scoff at, play festivals Metal fans scoff at, get play on radio stations Metal bands can only dream of and get covered in magazines Metal fans scoff at (or in reality allow them not to have to speak to Metal Journalists who rudely dismiss them and focus on more mainstream publications. Some fans call this selling-out too, but if I got that much abuse from the Metal community, I’d do the same thing!).  

Even if the music slowly moved away from what I liked about the band on their 2nd and 3rd albums, they always put out great sounding and interesting albums that were objectively quite good and I’ve enjoyed their musical evolution.

Their last release, last year’s Music To Listen To‘ EP was their bigest departure yet; an experimental, chill out affair and not really what I’d consider a canonical release. Now in late 2020, they’ve released another EP, but this time of proper Rock/Metal songs. Its 9 tracks and about half an hour long, but it does feel like a canonical release and you can imagine these songs being included in future live sets and best-ofs unlike material from the previous EP.

Some of the tracks have been released already, such as ‘Parasite Eve’ and ‘Ludens’ on various soundtracks, and ‘Obey’ (featuring a colab with the singer Yungblud) was dropped as a single earlier this year, with a music video reminiscent of ‘Intergalactic’ by The Beastie Boys. All these (at the time) non-album singles were fairly well received and got people’s hopes up that the band were “going heavy again” as there was a lot more guitar and bigger grooves than the last two albums, and got several lapsed fans excited for the next effort.   

Post Human: Surival Horror opens strongly with the heaviest song in years. It would have been a good bridge between Sempiternal and That’s The Spirit. That’s not to say the whole EP is a return to old formulas. There’s still a lot of the pop/electronic focus of the last few albums, there’s vocal lines that would’ve never fit on older albums, but it does have a crunch and bounce that was in short supply on Amo. In fact that had a song called “Heavy Metal” basically calling out Metal fans for all the comment-section hate.

On the other side of the coin; the collaboration with Babymetal ‘Kingslayer’ is a colourful neon explosion that sounds exactly like what you’d imagine when you hear “BMTH collaboration with Babymetal 2020.” That’s also preceded by one and a half minute intro of the same nature. New single (is it the lead single when they released the other 3 singles separately before the EP was even announced?) ‘Teardrops’ is a nice melodic modern radio-rock single and the natural evolution of what they’ve been doing on the last two albums.

There’s also 1×1 which is a very faithful recreation of the style of Linkin Park’s first two albums. The band have never made any secret of their appreciation for Nu Metal’s biggest selling band, but this is their most influence-on-sleeve track to date.  The EP closes with the annoyingly titled “One Day The Only Butterflies Left Will Be In Your Chest As You March Towards Your Death” which is a slow electronic half-ballad, with a guest appearance from Evanescence’s Amy Lee, that will suit fans of material like “And The Snakes Start To Sing” or “Memorial” from previous efforts.

Overall, stylistically this EP is a bit of a mixed bag. There’s no easy tag. Its not the band going heavy again. Its not their poppiest album to date. It is a mish mash of their past 3 records, plus new ideas, and multiple collaborations as usual. You’ll probably never find an objective review of this highly controversial and much discussed band, but throwing my biased two cents in, I think this is a worthwhile EP and fans of the band who haven’t jumped ship yet have nothing to fear, fans of the band who’ve only been here a short time have nothing to fear, save maybe the opener. All in all, I think they’re going for a best-of-both-world’s thing here and they’ve almost nailed it. If they ever release a new full-length album (which is uncertain as they’ve talked about giving up on that format in today’s modern Spotify world) then I imagine further practice at this compromise will yield even better results and hopefully their most well rounded album in years.

Bring Me The Horizon – Amo Review

Bring Me The Horizon are a very weird band. They have early albums with blast beats and death growls and their latest album is basically a pop music album with barely any guitars. That’s a pretty diverse discography, and if you bought and liked one and then picked up the other without any prior knowledge, you would be understandably confused, and possibly distressed. There was a very natural evolution over time, with different fans getting on and getting off the train at different points, but still.There’s a song on this album called ‘Heavy Metal’ which cleverly calls this out, and the chorus is basically variations on ‘’this shit aint heavy metal …and that’s alright.’’ – This very much sums up my feelings.

Now; my favourite BMTH album is probably the heavy, exciting and savage sophomore album, Suicide Season. The sound of that record is much closer to death metal and metalcore than pop music. However, with each new album the band have broadened their horizons and changed their focus so much that when they dropped the controversial Amo in January 2019, it made sense.

There are a few nuggets of the band’s older energy, such as the lead singles ‘’Wonderful Life’’ and ‘’Mantra’’ (the former of which has a guest vocal from Dani Filth!) as well as ‘Sugar, Honey, Ice & Tea’. However, where the album really shines is when they go full on radio pop.

My favourite song on the album for example is ‘Medicine’ which feels like something you’d hear in a clothes shop nowadays, and other highlights include ‘Nihilist Blues’ which sounds like something they’d play in a nightclub scene in a sci-fi videogame and ‘Why You Gotta Kick Me When I’m Down?’ which sounds like an advertisement for some trendy car-chase movie. It gives me a peak into musical worlds I normally have no exposure to or interest in and as such, is nice for the unique place it has in my music collection.

I don’t think I would have gotten into this band at all if this was the sort of music they’d always played. If I heard almost any song off this record and it was a new band, I don’t think I would explore any further, but since I’ve been following the band for years and years, it was nice to unexpectedly end up here. I don’t own any other music that sounds like ‘Fresh Bruises’ outside some electronic tinged remix bonus tracks from singles and digipaks in the Nu Metal era.

I guess it may sound a bit bizarre next to tracks from Count Your Blessings or Suicide Season in a playlist, but there’s no denying it is catchy. Maybe watching too much Teen Mum UK with my wife has exposed me to too much contemporary pop music, but ‘Mother Tongue’ is one of the catchiest new releases from any band I like in 2019.

As I, and I’m sure many other reviewers as cliched as me will have already said, (it really is low hanging fruit), Amo ‘aint heavy metal, but that’s alright.

Bring Me The Horizon – Live At Wembley Blu Ray Review

418XGuo0CKL._SY445_What makes a good live video? Is it the camera crew? Is it the sound guy? Is it the editor? Does the track-listing have anything to do with it? Is it capturing a significant event in the band’s history? How much do the extras live video screens and pyro count? In the end, is all that matters the performance from the group?

I bring this up, because I have very mixed feelings about British Metalcore band, Bring Me The Horizon’s Live At Wembley Blu Ray.

Lets run down the list shall we? The camera work is superb. I watch a lot of live videos and this one is no disappointment. The sound is really clear, they have faithfully captured what was played on the night (more on that later). The band play a great track listing here, with material from all their studio albums to date, including not only hits but deep cuts and mixing the screeching and blast beats of the early days with the melody and keys of their smash hit Sempiternal album and some of their greatest material from their best two albums in between. The film captures the band headlining London’s historic Wembley Stadium and as singer Olly Sykes points out on stage this was their biggest show to date and a real crowning achievement for the band. It certainly isn’t visually dull and the band put a lot of effort into videos and artwork and steam cannons. There’s a lot of stuff going on to keep up your interest. Basically, if you take all this into account, this is on paper an absolutely brilliant release and an utter must have for fans of the band.

However; and this is a big however. It isn’t a very good concert. I like this band on record. I saw them live and it was very patchy, but I figured it was an off night. I saw old videos from the early days live that were very patchy but I figured that that was the early days and they would’ve got better over time. Well; this is still not very good.

I am not the kind of person to trowel on the negatives, but there are some points that sort of spoil this release for me. The band aren’t very tight. The drums sound sort of separate from the stringed instruments. Olly’s vocals are very different to the record with too much time spent out of breath or pointing the mic at the crowd or whatever. (I’m really hesitant to slag him off too much as he gets such grief online, and I’m not one of those people, but it is an honest reflection of this concert). The balance of instruments on the night sounds really wrong, with the levels of guitars and drums sounding confused and muffled and making the songs muddy and lacking in both heaviness and clarity. (I had this exact concern when I saw them live on this album cycle, so I know it isn’t just a choice at the Blu Ray’s sound mixing stage, and it really is a deal breaker).

Its a bit of a shame really. This is a perfectly recorded, brilliant looking, historic and exciting concert from the band at their zenith, playing a career spanning mixture of material for genuine fans. On that basis alone it is the kind of thing I’d usually hands down recommend. However, it is all spoiled by the actual concert.

My recommendation would be, if you are interested in the band, get a studio album instead. Suicide Season and There Is A Hell’ are utterly essential to fans of the genre, and show you what a vibrant and important band they are. Skip this unless you are a superfan who needs to own everything. In fact if you want a live album from the band, get Live At The Royal Albert Hall instead, since it has an orchestra on it and the proceeds go to a cancer charity.

Bring Me The Horizon – That’s The Spirit Review

Bring Me The Horizon – That’s The Spirit

Bring Me The Horizon have had an interesting evolution as a band, with the material on their new record being utterly unidentifiable as being the same band as the one who made their debut EP, and yet every release in between has been the completely logical sequel to its predecessor.

A journey that very much started when Suicide Season had less death growls and blast beats on it than their debut album, and featuring the odd little touches of electronics here and there, has album-by-album seen the band evolves into a BBC Radio 1-friendly band with almost entirely clean vocals, absolutely no touches of Death Metal anywhere in the proceedings whatsoever, and electronics out the wazzoo (so to speak). Its still Rock music (with Pop and Dance tinges), but there’s very little Metal left. They loose fans with each step on the road but seem to recruit 50 for every 1 who drops. A good guide to the band’s evolution is to take the two least-extreme songs on any album and that becomes the average sound of the next album… so, considering that their excellent previous album Sempiternal featured ‘Can You Feel My Heart?’ and ‘…And The Snakes Start To Sing’ – following my train of thought, you can see what sort of thing you can expect on 2015’s That’s The Spirit.

So that’s evolution covered. “Stylistically” would be the next concern – There’s tiny touches of Nine Inch Nails, there’s tiny touches of Pink Floyd, there’s even a moment with cheerleaders singing (like on Mastodon’s ‘Aunt Lisa,’ Marilyn Manson’s ‘mObscene’ and Faith No More’s ‘Be Aggressive’ amongst others) but it seems to me that most of the direction is from outside the comfort zone of the average Rock/Metal fan. What else can be said? Well its melancholy as hell, with a real hopeless, negative, depressing feel straight from the opener ‘Doomed’ – but its bittersweet, with euphoric electronic dance music sounds in the background and the most melodic and talented clean singing of the band’s career. Even the track called ‘Happy Song’ seems to be dripping in misery, and I guess you can see why if you read any interviews with the band’s frontman and his struggles with addiction. The songs do have some nice structuring and are well constructed, dynamic and interesting… its not just verse-chorus-verse, but it is immediate, accessible and catchy as all hell.

“Sonically” comes next – well, it sounds like a million bucks, which is interesting because its actually self-produced. It is amazingly clear, the electronics are top drawer, the mix is perfect, the drums are shimmering and the little touches of keys stick out like they’re tapping you on the shoulder. The production is actually notably good. Almost distractingly good.

Songwriting? Forget about it! All this direction changing might upset me (I am absolutely in love with the Suicide Season sound and would happily have taken four clones of it instead of evolution) but the thing that makes it all work is that the band just write absolutely furiously good songs. Songs that stick in your head. Songs that you think about all day at work. Songs that make you buy concert tickets. Highlights include the excellent single ‘Throne’ which just makes you want to throw fists in the air, ‘True Friends’ which is just stupidly catchy …as well as ‘Blasphemy’ which is something special, it would be the best song on almost any album by any of the band’s peers and its difficult to describe why, other than a plain and simple “Its just that damn good!”

Bring Me The Horizon have made a lot of great albums, but even so this one won’t be forgotten. In an already foolishly good year of excellent releases from a great many bands (this really has been a great year for music I enjoy) this one still stands out. That’s The Spirit isn’t an album I’ll listen to a few times and shelve, its still going to be in heavy rotation next week, next month, next year, and on the band’s next album-cycle. If you have similar tastes to me, get yourself a copy, you won’t be sorry!

I Went To Go See Architects Live Tonight

I went to go see Architects live tonight at the Manchester Academy 2 on Friday 7th March. It was the first day of their tour in support of their new (as yet unreleased, although you could buy it at the merch stand) album Lost Forever Lost Together.

They were supported by Landscapes, Northlane and Stray From The Path.

Doors seemed to open about forty minutes late but I’m not sure if that was reality or just my perception. When I did get in, I was able to get very close to the front in a good spot. Landscapes were already playing when I got in (something that’s happened a few times at the Academy), they were a Metalcore band halfway between the Architects/BMTH style and the Killswitch/Parkway Drive style, and they were really good at what they did. They also had quite a lot of floaty bits that reminded me vaguely of Isis. Their singer was pretty impressive, he got into the crowd at one point for almost an entire song, but not like when a singer usually pops up at the front of the crowd, he walked right into the centre of the room and a circle opened up around him as he sang into different fans’ faces, it was pretty cool. They were my favourite support band of the evening.

Next up came Northlane, who were Australian. Their singer at first reminded me of big New York Hardcore singers like Evan Seinfeld and Lou Coller, but that changed as the show went on. Their music really engaged the crowd, although I couldn’t really make much sense of it. It was pretty techy and disjointed, with a lot of sub-drops and stuff. What was also interesting is that their guitarist played riffs every now and again that you’d swear were Wes Borland riffs. Its not something you expect in combination with the rest of it. It was impressive, but the song structures and things were kind of a little baffling, to the point of being pretty progressive. The crowd seemed really into it. If you like them, you’d love them live.

Next up came Stray From The Path; who I looked up on Wikipedia on my phone while they were sound-checking, and saw under their Genre ‘Hardcore Punk.’ When their first song, which I assume was called ‘Pull The Pin,’ came on however, it sounded like Limp Bizkit to me. Their singer was a bouncy, hip hop influenced guy who threw Eminem style hand gestures and things. The rest of their set was kind of like a mixture between Will Haven, Vision Of Disorder, Rage Against The Machine and actually Northlane. The bill really made sense, all the bands had real similarities in places but were a completely different take on it. They were really good at what they did, but it wasn’t quite to my tastes. I could tell their singer really meant what he said and the band played well, so once again, if you like this band, live they are excellent so you’d love it.

Finally the evening ended with Architects. I was kind of expecting it to be OK. I don’t know why, but for some reason I went in with the notion it would be decent but not great. As it turns out it was actually bloody brilliant. Architects were absolutely on fire. They had this huge, indescribable x-factor about them that made them seems so much larger and more professional than most other bands I’ve seen live in this venue. Singer Dan Carter just had that superstar confidence about him (even though he was humble and really grateful and kept making thankful statements to the crowd that didn’t seem disingenuous in any way), he is an incredible front man, pretty captivating. I would love to see Bring Me The Horizon replace Olly Sykes with Dan Carter – that would make a really great live band. Maybe even better would just be if the entire of Architects had BMTH’s songs. That would be an incredible live band. Comparing the two from what I’ve seen live, (and its kind of reasonable to compare them with their similar music and mutual appearances on eachother’s albums) Dan is thousands of times better as a singer, screamer, crowd ambassador and visual force than Olly is, and has way better stage presence. When I saw BMTH live before Christmas, Olly kind of let the show down a bit, because of being out-of-breath and missing parts and interacting with the crowd poorly… Architects live were the exact opposite. Just as a quick example; at one stage Dan said “Everybody in the whole audience, drop to your knees” and I’m not joking, in less than about 12 seconds it had happened. Everyone just did it. No dragged out period of convincing them, and mocking the people who are slow or unable to do it all the way. Just almost instant success. Olly had tried the same thing when I saw BMTH and it was really drawn out, and Olly started telling people to fuck off and go home and generally being petulant. I think Dan must just seem like such a nice bloke everybody wanted to do it for him.

The set list was interesting, with some new material from the upcoming new album, one track from The Here And Now and most of the set drawn from Daybreaker and Hollow Crown (and as far as I could tell, nothing older than that) so 99% of the setlist was drawn from albums were the ‘A’ logo is the artwork.

The highlight of the show was when they played ‘Even If You Win, You’re Still A Rat’ and ‘The Here And Now’ one after another, possibly because they’re my two favourite Architects songs anyway, but also because it was brilliant live.

The band actually sold out the 900 person venue and raised the very good point that this is pretty unbelievable when you consider how angular, jagged and ugly an album Hollow Crown is (Seriously, if you don’t know the band, just listen to the first minute of ‘Early Grave’ and then wonder how a band playing that can sell out such a big venue, with a pretty equal gender split in the audience)… its not even like they played much material with clean singing or the spacey numbers, it was all just the heavy stuff, more or less.

The crowd seemed to absolutely love it. They chanted ‘Arch-i-techs’ and uncommonly high amount of times. There was an interesting bit when they stopped the show to raise awareness of an anti-whaling charity called Sea Sheppard, and even that didn’t let them lose any momentum. The band were all just on fire. Every member played with real energy and conviction. Overall, it was a fantastic performance and I was really impressed. If you’re a fan and you can, go and see them live – you won’t be disappointed.