Since coming together in 2004, the band have found themselves in the rather unique position of being equally adored and loathed across the alternative music landscape, no more apparent than when they won both ‘Best British Band’ and ‘Worst British Band’ in a 2009 Rock Sound readers poll. Perhaps largely down to their blatant fashion consciousness and, by their own admission, commonplace deathcore genericisms, debut album ‘Count Your Blessings‘ dropped to Oli Sykes and co. coming under fire from metal elitists who saw the band’s image as offensively invogue and their sound a teen baiting rehash of monotonous breakdowns and stolen At The Gates riffs. Understandable perhaps, yet can we not forgive a bands debut full length for not breaking any new ground?
Indeed, for all the criticism BMTH‘s popularity continued to soar, with subsequent releases ‘Suicide Season‘ and ‘There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It, There Is A Heaven, Lets Keep It A Secret‘ embracing polish, structure and electronic explorations whilst maintaining their rabid aggression. The detractors of course still denounced the band from behind their keyboards with their ‘don’t call this metal they have haircuts’ claims, yet with the release of this years ‘Sempiternal‘, a vicious surge of mindless vitriol has accompanied the bands most experimental release to date. Because of course, experimentation is tantamount to incest.
‘Sempiternal‘ is slick and accessible, leaning on a foundation of electronics and featuring the bands most radio friendly hooks to date. Many would scream ‘sell out’ the moment opener ‘Can You Feel My Heart‘ introduces the record with its shimmering synths and towering chorus, yet this is simply missing the point: Bring Me The Horizon have just got better. The songwriting retains a wide eyed aggression and instrumental clout (these songs in a live setting pack a particularly ferocious punch), and most importantly a genuine pain behind Oli Sykes‘ vocals which is at points is heavier than any death metal blasting. There’s emotional heaviness here, delivered by a band with the tools to put across this sentimental weight a little more excitingly than the same boring breakdowns. The success that has followed the album again seems to give rise to the sell out claim, yet it is difficult to comprehend why a band as metallic (sorry, but they are) as BMTH receiving such widespread acclaim could cause any harm to the scene? We need metal bands to get big; exposing our world this broadly gives it the potential to thrive and grow. Kids discovering songs like ‘Shadow Moses‘ through radio play and going on to look deeper are our future. Perhaps the band are not representing heavy music in a way in which many would choose, but then again, sticking Carcass on the radio will probably not achieve the same response.
Written by Tony Bliss