Terry Date: Production
David Bendeth: Mixing
Bring Me The Horizon
Bring me the Horizon is a Metalcore/Post Hardcore band from Sheffield UK, currently made up of five members. Oliver Sykes (Vocals), Lee Malia (Lead Guitar), Matt Kean (Bass Guitar), Matt Nicholls (Drums), Jordan Fish (Synth & Keyboard). They have released four studio albums since 2004 when they formed.
Sempiternal is the New album from Bring Me The Horizon, which was officially released yesterday [2nd of April 2013]. Before now, I’d never paid much attention to BMTH, I heard various bits and pieces from their last three offerings over the years and honestly it just didn’t really grab me. I didn’t think it was bad, but nothing made it stand out for me. With this album that has been flipped on its head. I’ve been listening to this album a lot in the last few days, via their now “self-destructed” preview on www.sempiternal.info. I’m really impressed on many levels. I heard the band starting the move into exploring more melodic ideas in the predecessor of Sempiternal: There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It. There Is A Heaven, Lets Keep It A Secret. But this time I think they took it one step further and to a whole new level. I made the decision to purchase it after only hearing the first few tracks, so I visited Amazon and bought it there and then. Sempiternal is probably the first album I’ve ever bought on its release date. Saying that, I actually feel quite ashamed, being such a big music fanatic and that until now I’ve never purchased an album on the day of its release is pretty bad. Oh well, it now seems that BMTH have taken my virginity on that one. I feel 14 again! 😛
CAN YOU FEEL MY HEART
Sempiternal kicks off with CAN YOU FEEL MY HEART which pulls in with a strange melodic “ah” sound cut into a choppy staccato melody via what sounds like excessive autotune. At first it struck me as odd, and didn’t sit with me well, but it quickly grew on me as an essential hook of the track. The first thing you notice about this track is that although Oli Sykes still screams in a hardcore style vocal, it’s been altered from the flat monotone sound that had never really got my attention, into a more melodic and much more exciting style. Even more of a surprise came when I heard him sing in a completely clean tone, I will admit I’m not familiar enough with the previous album to know if Sykes attempted any sort of melodic vocals there, but for me this album is the first time I had heard him stray from the path of standard hardcore vocalists. The track has an almost dubstep feel to it, which I can only imagine was helped along by the addition of BMTH’s new Keyboard man Jordan Fish. With booming synth under Lee Malia distorted guitars, layered with a thick dashing of autotune and halftime drums. Does a sense of Skrillex’s collaboration with Korn comes to mind? It does for me. This track has definitely been added to my list of favourite tracks from 2013 so far.
THE HOUSE OF WOLVES
The second track on Sempiternal is THE HOUSE OF WOLVES which is a much more energized track, with a punchy hardcore punk vibe to the opening riff. Complimentary fast paced drumming from Matt Nicholls soon kicks in and Oli Sykes comes crashing in screaming the words “Show me a sign, show me a reason to give a solitary fuck about your goddamn beliefs. I’m going blind, but one thing’s clear. Death is the only salvation you’ll feel” although I think “Goddamn” is slightly cheesy and might have been better off being worded slightly differently, it fits and shows the angry intention of the track and its anti-theistic theme. It lets you know Oli has got something to be seriously pissed about. The melodic style chorus really adds a great dimension to what could have been a pretty a straight forward hardcore musing. When the song hits the breakdown/middle eight with the awesomely catchy hook “And when you die, the only kingdom you’ll see, is two-foot wide and six foot deep!” You really can’t help, but want to sing/scream along. The track continues to rage until the end blasts out in a blaze of glory.
EMPIRE (LET THEM SING)
Track three is up next, titled EMPIRE (LET THEM SING) which introduces Mr. Sykes screaming almost completely solo with only a small amount of soundscaping to add subtle atmospherics to his tone. As the intro progresses, a distorted guitar is introduced slowly into the left speaker as it fades up to the climax “Let them sing, let them SING!” unleashing some almighty mosh pit inducing riffage layered with dark symphonic overtones that is sure to create chaos and cause injury to a notable percentage of their young and boisterous fan base. Littered with beautiful soundscaping and amazing production values this tune really gets the blood pumping and the heart beating, with a healthy dose of head banging for good measure.
The opening of SLEEPWALKING wouldn’t raise an eyebrow placed on a Linkin Park album with it’s reverb soaked pad sounds and futuristic vibe that is intertwined throughout most of LP’s music. In fact the whole song feels very Linkin Park even the vocal melody and lyrics hints at influences that make me recall fond memories of Hybrid Theory and Meteora from my teens. That certainly doesn’t take away from the sense of euphoria that it induces upon impact, oscillating the membranes of my eardrums. The sound is sweet and full of succulent flavour, I will easily say this is one of the best/catchiest tracks on the album. The hook “It’s like I’m sleepwalking” gets caught in your brain like a genetically engineered bio weapon, designed to be as infectious as the common cold and as deadly as a strain of Ebola. A strain of Ebola that’s having a really fucking bad day. In a word this track is simply “Killer!” if this was released in the age where we still didn’t have the option of buying separate tracks unless released as single, (i.e. the Internet) this track would be worth the purchase of the whole album alone.
GO TO HELL, FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE
In my opinion Bring Me The Horizon have always had a clever sense of humour with their song titles and present many wonderful distortions of cultural references, although not strictly humourous, it certainly has a little tongue in cheek twist to the title GO TO HELL, FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE. This is another great offering from the Sheffield based 5 piece. Another track with an intro that probably wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a Linkin Park album. Sykes voice comes in with his more usual hardcore style over some very satisfyingly punchy toms and bass pedal work. Then comes a heavy pre-chorus before dropping out for a short moment of silence, where only a gentle bass synth rumbles in the background while a soft spoken vocal leads with the very bizarre lyric “When did the diamonds leave your bones?” which I either don’t know the particular reference or is meant to be purposely cryptic and lends itself to a sort of Deftones-esque void of logic. A beautifully gritty chorus with a melodic scream “I’m burning down every bridge we make, I’ll watch you choke on the hearts you break, I’m bleeding out every word you said, Go to hell for heaven’s sake” is superbly catchy and infection. My only gripe in this song is the use of the word “make” instead of “made” not only would it have sounded better, but it doesn’t quite make sense with the first part of the line sounding like it belongs in a past tense. How can Mr. Sykes be burning down bridges he hasn’t MADE yet? Or am I missing the point, and it’s actually a very clever micro black hole in logical thinking again? Only the boys from BMTH could answer that I guess. Other than my meaningless insignificant gripe, it’s a great track with lots of energy.
SHADOW MOSES was the first track I heard from Sempiternal, I had no idea that BMTH was about to release a new album, but while scrolling through the limited choices on Xbox live’s music channel, I decided to give it a try. I was instantly taken back by the new melodic style that Bring Me The Horizon had brought to the table. A sound that I hadn’t heard from them before, and when the killer heavy riff kicked in I was totally hooked. I probably raped the replay button at least 6 times before my other half decided she was getting pissed off at me for being a hog with the Xbox controller. So I went downstairs to find the video on YouTube and listen some more. I must admit I did laugh at all the comments on the video’s YouTube page about Oli Sykes sounding like he’s screaming “This is Sandpit Turtle” instead of “This is Sempiternal” during the middle eight of the song. But if I’m honest even if that’s what he was singing it wouldn’t affect the quality of the track. Although nothing to really do with the album in terms of how it sounds, the strange effect used in the music video for this song did become quite nauseating after a while. Overall though it was a wise choice to represent the album before it’s release, simply because it kicks a lot of ass!
AND THE SNAKES START TO SING
This track took a little longer to grow on me than the others before it, not because it’s any less of an awesome tune, but after 6 seriously pounding tracks, it felt like the low to the high I was only came a little too quickly. But after a few runs through the album, it’s certainly found it’s place, and it’s exactly where it belongs. Bring Me The Horizons new reverb drenched ballad is by far the most mellow track on the album and is very rich with Deftones influences from the album White Pony. Surprisingly it’s mostly what sounds like Sykes impersonating the Deftones frontman Chino Moreno with his overly breathy melodic whispers. It all works very nicely, the only real bad point of this track is the some of the snare rolls sound very unnatural against the background. Probably not Matt Nicholls (Drummer) or the bands fault, most likely whoever did the drum replacements, was being lazy with recreating any of the subtle dynamics that Nicholls probably intended. That’s just my opinion though, as a producer myself I felt it made the drums sound programmed and very over-produced. Still I wouldn’t say it takes away from the song in any major way.
SEEN IT ALL BEFORE
Up next we have SEEN IT ALL BEFORE, Sempiternal’s eighth track. The band push off with a very mellow lead in, which lends itself nicely to the previous track, but quickly changes direction into a fast paced riff that has an almost 80’s pop rock vibe to it. Although I can’t quite put my finger on what. On this track Oli brings back some more of his Deftones overtones in his vocals. This song has a nice use of dynamics throughout the duration of its short and sharp 4 minute lifespan. The chorus has a sweet catchy screamed melody that compliments all aspects of the sound spectrum flowing through the listeners speakers. At the end of the song it drifts out on a soft passage which slips into the night and disappears into a faint echo, before flatlining completely.
By the very high standards of Sempiternal as an album, thus far. In terms of lyrical merit I don’t feel ANTIVIST delivers its message as thoughtfully as the rest of the album. Although it isn’t a bad thing to come down from your pedestal to say what you mean without remorse, or beating around the bush. The style of the lyrics sounds like they were only used for their apparent shock value. Obviously not shocking to anyone who is intelligent enough to understand words are only as offensive as you let them be. But to me it sounded somewhat forced, it felt like the sole intention of this track was designed to make the overprotective parents of teenage girls want to write angry letters, and post them to worthless newspaper columns. It lets the track down a bit, but that being said the somewhat cheesy, but still insanely catchy hook “Middle fingers up, if you don’t give a fuck! Think you’re changing anything? Question everything!” is a lot of fun to sing to. It still contains some great hooks, and the the carnage of djent style guitars after screaming the word’s “I think you’re a CUNT!” does have a certain appeal to my own inner rebellious child that likes to come out when I’ve had too much to drink. TMI?
CROOKED YOUNG is another track based on an anti-theistic theme. This time it’s probably more obvious, with the line “Fuck your faith!” being a much more direct way of sticking a middle finger up at organised religion and the god fearing folk of planet Earth. The track comes belting in with a mix of Matt’s fast paced drumming and low mixed guitar work from Lee Malia and Matt Kean’s bass, which gives way to a classical sounding piece of string music complementing the instrumentation in a very satisfying way. After the intro section, the sound drops into a more classical sounding Bring Me The Horizon sound that many fans with be familiar with. The song slows its pace with sections of more reverb soaked symphonic compositions that add a lot of atmospherics to the songs. The lyrical content of this track, although still containing some elements of the shock value from the previous song, feel much more polished and well thought out. Eventually the song builds to a climax and then burns out like a candle on crack!
HOSPITAL FOR SOULS
The eleventh hour is upon us and also the eleventh and final track of the album. HOSPITAL FOR SOULS begins with a soft ambience that rings out under Oli Speaking about how hard it is to change, and learning valuable life lessons. The musical style of this number goes back round full circle with a dubstep style intro of slow thumping drums and bass overloaded synth that could kill a small rodent at fifty feet. Sykes showcases a fairly long scream (for him) of the lyrics “Watch me BURN!” repeated several times throughout. Although not more than about 5 seconds long, from the live performances I have seen of Oli, I’m interested to see if he’s able to pull it off. His screams sound great on record but live his technique rags his throat very quickly. The vocal has obviously been majorly tampered with in places, but it’s hard to tell if it’s just an artistic choice or not, the effect is littered on many accented screams throughout the entire album, so it’s more than likely it’s simply for artistic reasons. The track then goes on to settle down into a prolonged mellow buildup before the album chimes in with the final hook laced with gritty guitars and more orchestral overtones playing in the background, which add a lot of character to the soundscaping. Soon after, the track wraps up the curtain drops, the band takes its bow and as quickly as it had started, it was all over again. At least for now!
Final Thoughts on Sempiternal
I would personally put this album on par with albums like Hybrid Theory and White Pony, the latter of which is probably helped by the fact Sempiternal was produced by Terry Date who did many of Deftones albums. Although it’s hard to see Sempiternal as being the same kind of game changer as Hybrid Theory in terms of impact on the music industry. I do believe the quality of the songs is of the same calibre and mass appeal without pandering. If you don’t like LP that probably sounds like an insult, I could imagine many BMTH fans disliking the comparison, but Hybrid Theory was and still is a great album which brings back many fond memories, as I’m sure Sempiternal will for many, in successive generations. I think this album will stand the test of time far better than their previous works, but ironically only time will tell if I’m right. So we’ll have to wait and see. Overall I would give this album a solid 9/10.
What’s your favourite track on the album? Are you already a Bring Me The Horizon Fan? Or are you like me and feel this latest album is enough to make you change your mind about them? Have you bought their album? If so how do you feel about it? Let us know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading guys, I know it was long, but I had a lot to say about the album.
Stay Metal \m/
You can purchase Sempiternal here
. Also go check out the official video for Shadow Moses below.