Bring Me The Horizon display an impressive use of electronic effects and poppy songwriting, whilst still making use of the rock sound that they’re known for.
The rock genre seems to be a sort of prison for those who’re labelled under the umbrella. Many bands have abandoned their rock roots over the years and progressed into a different sound (pop more often than not), whether for creative diversity or the hopes of being more “radio friendly”. Bring Me The Horizon take this very step on their recent 2019 release “amo”. Their 2015 LP “That’s the Spirit” experimented with layering electronic effects over their alt-rock sound, and “amo” just takes this experimentation one step further.
Many people (including fans of the band) may be under the impression that Bring Me The Horizon have gone super pop on their latest record. But whilst they have certainly made the electronic sounds less subtle and more in the foreground this time, they do still use elements of their traditional rock sound on “amo”. Despite rock being one of my favourite genres, Bring Me The Horizon have never really been a band that I’ve had a connection with or been invested in. Which is why it ended up really surprising me when I found “amo” to actually be quite enjoyable.
The opening track “i apologise if you feel something,” sets the tone for the album quite well, featuring beeping synths quite similar to the opening track “11:11” off of Waterparks last LP. While not really a track that I would play by itself or in a playlist, it does a great job at easing the listener into what’s to come. The album’s second track “MANTRA” is a great example of BMTH using what they already know and creating an upbeat, crazy anthemic rock song. Being the record’s second track, I believe it was placed here to reassure fans that they are still the same band, despite the stylistic differences. “MANTRA” begins with a powerful, electrifying riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a “Royal Blood” record, and some pretty unique lyrics. The passionate delivery of the line, “Before the truth will set you free, it’ll piss you off”, packs a powerful punch and is sure to keep the listener engaged.
Another song on the record that’s more in line with some of the band’s older material is “wonderful life”. This hard rock tune is one of the standout tracks on the album, with it’s heart-racing drum fills and distorted guitar licks, that’ll leave you on the edge of your seat. However, as well as proving that they still have their rock element, they actually have created some catchy, upbeat poppy tracks that stand out on the record too. “medicine” and “nihilist blues” are evident of the group’s ability to make great use of electronic effects, yet still stand out from the crowd. The former of those songs being a favourite of mine from the album, and despite not liking it upon first listen “nihilist blues” has definitely grown on me over repeated listens.
But with the positives, come the negatives. There are few tracks on the record that are quite tedious to sit through. “fresh bruises” has become unlistenable to me at this point, and “why you gotta kick me when i’m down?”, despite initially liking the song, has gotten monotonous due to the repetitive chorus and rather dull instrumentation. “in the dark” is mediocre at best, and due to the clean, semi-picked, palm-muted guitars and front-man Oli Sykes’ delivery of the vocals, it kind of sounds like an Ed Sheeran B-side. An issue I have with the album as a whole comes from the poor pacing and structure of the track list. To go from “wonderful life” to “ouch” is a very disorienting experience, as you’ve gone from listening to a heavy, hard-rock song to a very artificial drum heavy, trap-beat, electronic track. This happens again later on when “why you gotta kick me when i’m down?” is followed up by “fresh bruises.” I feel like this problem could easily be resolved with a slight adjustment to the order of the tracks.
The band get self aware on the track “heavy metal”. The song is an upbeat pop-rock tune, with lyrics detailing the band’s reception to having switched style and genre. One of the standout lyrics from the chorus is “Cause some kid on the ‘gram said he used to be a fan, but this shit ain’t heavy metal.” Sykes is clearly tackling the issues that people have with the group head on and proudly singing that he’s not ashamed of the stylistic switch. I love how at the track’s climax, he guturally screams as a tongue-in-cheek way of referencing the sound they had earlier in their career. The album’s closer “i don’t know what to say” is an exception to the point I made earlier about the track list order being off. This song serves as the perfect closer to the album and the symphonic strings during the track’s climax leaves the listener with a sense of conclusion.
Overall, Bring Me The Horizon display an impressive use of electronic effects and poppy songwriting, whilst still making use of the rock sound that they’re known for. An easy way for me to describe their change in style, is that they didn’t pull it off quite as well as Paramore did, but they certainly did it a lot better than Fall Out Boy.
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