Having just entered their 15th year of existence, Sheffield metal group Bring Me The Horizon have lived enough years and produced enough material to have caused my interest in them to rise and fall several times.
The promotional campaign for the band’s sixth release amo has seen the band secure their first Grammy nomination, announce their first headline slot at London’s All Points East festival and receive their first UK number one.
All feats of a band in total denial of their arena potential a few years ago, feats they are deserving of due to the simple fact that they never stop innovating, taking the characteristics of metal groups of their time and shaping them into something entirely different.
The band’s 2015 release That’s The Spirit had me floored after a period of disinterest. Much of the press for amo have seen lead singer Oli Sykes concede this exact intention, stating that creating an album full of ‘bangers’ would pave the way for BMTH to experiment with future projects. That’s The Spirit struck the perfect balance between the ferocity of BMTH’s trademark metal sound with a heightened pop sensibility, something that had shown its face on highlights from previous projects but only in slithers.
Many reviews of amo have dwelled in the presumption that this album will be an upset to their long time fans, a necessary but not central observation as to why the album fails to be as musically effective as its predecessor.
However, I do not believe the album’s letdowns lie in its experimental nature. In fact, amo misses the mark in acting as the vehicle for the band to deliver some of their most interesting musical ideas yet, serving up unconvincing and unoriginal lyrical content.
Production duties have stayed with Sykes and keyboard player Jordan Fish for the second album in a row, and for the most part it has paid off. All of the album’s highlights lie within the moments that would’ve seemed impossible for a band like BMTH a mere two albums ago.
Lead single ‘MANTRA’ deserves it’s Grammy nomination, laden in sirens and vocal samples acting as a powerful bridge for fans of the band’s previous work whilst bringing something new to the table.
As a massive fan of Grimes, the band’s collaboration with her was by far my most anticipated moment of the album and it does not disappoint. Taking on her avant garde electronic pop was a move of unexpected excellence, and ‘nihilist blues’ will undoubtedly sound phenomenal live.
The band’s previous cracks at including intricate strings within their music has always been intriguing. This previous work has allowed them to go fully classical with ‘i don’t know what to say’, a song that wouldn’t sound out of place as a Bond theme.
Much of amo’s disappointment stems from the number of big moments that feel uncomfortable, even lazy. Second single ‘medicine’ would not have stood out among the masses of poppier metal songs of it’s kind in 2011 and does not stand out now. ‘heavy metal’ is communicated with an unconvincing arrogance that carries no real weight – dedicating an entire song to critics on ‘the gram’ at the age of 32.
An album with promise, amo will attract listeners old and new for different reasons and further the band’s success. Bring Me The Horizon are going to reach the greatest heights of their career off the back of one of their weakest albums, and that is okay.