Ah yes, Bring Me The Horizon. They emerged as angry, drunk teenagers making startlingly brutal music in the mid 00's, part of the MySpace wave that enabled bands that were stupidly heavy yet with odd gimmicks in place to get a pretty decent level of popularity. They'd later move on from that to become the most cutting-edge band within metalcore, before leaving that style behind on That's The Spirit, becoming massive while losing a bit of what made them so special in the first place. Yet it's a long story, across a demo, EP, and five full-length albums over like 15 years at this stage, so here we go.
Basically, a demo they did of songs in their bedroom, recording quality sounds like shite, 2 songs off it, “Medusa” and “Who Wants Flowers When They’re Dead? Nobody!” would make it onto other releases, their debut album, and EP respectively. The sound is pretty much the nasty melodeath inspired deathcore/skronky metalcore that’s driven more by juvenile energy than really coherent songwriting. I do quite like “Shed Light” though, it's got a really sick riff.
This is a nasty, brutal, techy, chaotic EP, inspired by the likes of Norma Jean, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Skycamefalling, with jarring, incisive riffs, crushing breakdowns around every corner and Oli Sykes screaming his throat out. The songwriting here, however, isn't really that strong, the songs are pretty much just parts cobbled together. That being said, however, "Who Wants Flowers When You're Dead? Nobody" has some really interesting riffs, and is perhaps the first steps towards this band being able to write proper bangers. At the same time too, it's 18 minutes of pure skronky mathy rage and thus is well worth a spin if you're into this sort of thing.
Recommended Tracks: Who Wants Flowers When You're Dead? Nobody
Their debut album, and for many their first introduction to the Sheffield hellraisers. It's very much a typical deathcore album to be released in 2006, you've got the melodeath inspired riffs, the massive breakdowns, gang vocals to show there is, in fact, a hardcore influence, and too much teen misogyny they would thankfully grow out of. It is an exhilarating ride, however, despite their shortcomings. They bring a level of excitement and energy to their songs that help elevate this into the upper echelons of mid 00's MySpace deathcore. Lee Malia and Curtis Ward are both severely underrated guitarists, peeling out stirring riffs and ripping solos, all delivered with that very teenage punch and vigour. They also delivered a solid scene kid classic in "Pray For Plagues", the epitome of what it was to put deathcore songs on MySpace in 2006. Is this a perfect album? Hell no. Is this a fun album for what it is? Oh yes.
When this album dropped, it was pretty much the sound of the future, way ahead of its time and far superior to any imitators. Given the negative reception to Count Your Blessings, the band had to come up with something fast that would be a make or break moment for em. The solution? Stall it off to a remote Swedish village, hire legendary producer Fredrik Nordström and write the blueprint for the future of metalcore.
What they were doing was bringing together all the best strands of the -core genres, the filth of old-school metalcore, the subtle layers of the best post-hardcore bands like Underoath and the nastiness of deathcore, all delivered with an outstanding production job that made them sound futuristic but not soulless. Unlike previous efforts the widdly guitars are dialed down a bit, instead replaced with these gloriously crystalline yet chunky riffs, bringing back nu metal a good few years before that style would catch on.
There's a more subtle application of melody, the breakdowns are better placed, they can still turn back on the old deathcore fury, but the restraint and songwriting nous set them far apart from any of the chancers knocking around MySpace in 2008. Here they brought on the use of electronics for the first time, acting as a subtle filling in of textures in the songs. The songwriting had never been as sharp as it was here before either, "The Comedown" and "Football Season Is Over" sitting comfortably alongside the more emotive likes of "The Sadness Will Never End". Truly a modern classic of an album.
Here we have the best BMTH album, anyone saying it's Sempiternal is talking out of their arse. What they did on this album, is take the base sound established on Suicide Season, take it to its darkest place, and accentuate every experimental texture they'd employed on that album, adding several new ones along the way. Like that album too, they brought along a few of their friends to help, Skrillex adding programming and glitching out vocals, Lights delivering some beautiful cleans on "Crucify Me" and "Don't Go", Josh Franchesi delivering the only thing he's ever done that's worth a damn on "Fuck" and a brilliant spot from The Chariot's Josh Scogin on "The Fox And The Wolf".
They'd never had a sense of grandeur before, and with the sweeping orchestration they brought to the table alongside the actual metalcore framework, we had a bruising, cinematic album on our hands, They could take this setup into a variety of places, the soaring crescendo of "Fuck", the restrained "Blessed With A Curse", the little moments here and there that accentuate a more standard track like "Anthem".
Even those more standard tracks are being done at a far higher standard than they ever would, the rabble-rousing "Anthem", the spiteful "Alligator Blood", the beautifully understated moments on "Visions". i haven't even touched on this album's best song, "It Never Ends", four minutes and 34 seconds of driving riffs, violins, a massive choir and one of Oli's best vocal performances to date.
This album wasn't the shock to the system Suicide Season was coming out of the gate, nor did it enable them to reach the commercial heights Sempiternal did (it did really well don't get me wrong but there was quite a jump made). However, it's the perfect merging of their brutality, their experimental spirit, and their songwriting chops. It's their darkest album lyrically, it's a brutal slaying of Oli's demons, yet more than anything I could say, it's a sign of just how much can be done with metalcore and how powerful a subgenre it can be at its very best. It's the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy of metalcore, put quite simply.
Recommended Tracks: Just listen to the whole album man, it's a solid 10/10, not even messing here like.
Overall the experimental moments on this album are its best, the keyboard-driven lighters in the air anthem "Can You Feel My Heart", post-rock inspired "Hospital For Souls" and the stunning "Sleepwalking". They're able to walk the tightrope quite well between their heavy past and melodic present on the likes of "Go To Hell For Heaven's Sake" and "Shadow Moses".
However there are a few weak moments here in "Antivist", which is jarringly immature considering how much of a step away from their past this album is, and the production, while making the melodies sound beautiful and the textures work really well, the guitars just don't have the same punch as before. It's still a great album though, well worth your time.Recommended Tracks: Can You Feel My Heart, Sleepwalking, Shadow Moses, Hospital For Souls.
That's The Spirit marks the point where BMTH completely left metalcore behind, whole ascending to new commercial heights, the band kinda jumped the shark a bit here. Though all the layers and melodies from Sempiternal can be found here, a drastic dialing down of the heaviness leaves this album just a bit too wet for its own good. This can be seen with "Happy Song" and "Throne", while good songs, you kinda expect the guitars to just explode. "True Friends" is quite corny as well, a shock considering just how far the band has come from that being acceptable. It's hard to tell how much is a band effort and how much would work as a side project with Oli and Jordan.
However, there is still a lot to like about this album. It's got an interesting blend of subgenres, the songwriting is generally quite strong, and there are some proper lovely moments in "Drown" and "Avalanche". If they stay along this path for the next album, let's hope they bring back a bit of their bite, it'll be interesting to see what happens anyway.