Band: Bring Me The Horizon
Area: Sheffield, UK
Date of release: 25th January 2019
Genre: Hard Rock, Pop Rock, Electro-Pop
Mixer: Dan Lancaster
Masterer: Ted Jensen
For fans of: Linkin Park, Muse, Against The Current, Papa Roach, Twenty One Pilots, Mike Shinoda
"I'll see you at the gates when it gets dark.
You jump the wall, I’ll find a place to park.
Kill the angels if they're keeping guard.
How do I start when you don't know what to say?
No, I don’t know what to say."
So, here we are. After three and half years, some bold statements and a string of considerably divisive singles, Bring Me The Horizon’s brand new, sixth full-length studio album ‘amo’ is finally here for the world to digest, and to say that it’s become a hot topic of absolute fan base division would be a massive understatement. Everyone either loves it or outright hates it. Many are embracing its prominently pop-infused electronic rock direction, whilst others long for the unlikely return to their old-school metalcore heyday. So, what do I think? Well, the way that I see it, ‘amo’ is kinda like a bundle of excellently crafted ideas, packaged together into an almost structure-less amalgamation of contrasting directions, with a flow that just doesn’t always seem to ‘work’. Needless to say, my initial impressions were anything but positive. I have always been quite critical of an album’s structure, sense of flow, and its overall song-to-song continuity, and to me, ‘amo’ just seemed like an absolute mess in that regard. Yet, for some reason, I just can’t seem to put it down; there’s something about it that I find so intriguing, so captivating that it keeps pulling me back in, and with each listen I find myself discovering new aspects that I actually kind of admire about it. So, does the experimental, new direction of ‘amo’ do their discography justice? Is the structure really that bad? What is it about Bring Me the Horizon’s ‘amo’ that’s got me so hooked, yet so conflicted?
‘amo’ opens with the short, hauntingly minimalistic ‘i apologise if you feel something’; a purely electronic track which sets up for ‘MANTRA’ whilst establishing the mood listeners should come to expect from this record. It’s not particularly happy nor angry, but if one thing is certain, it’s definitely eerie. Melancholic, pitch shifted vocal harmonies and breathy synth pads remain prominent throughout the song’s quick progression. Additional synths, vocals and symphonic strings enter for a massive dramatic buildup before suddenly returning back to the song’s original idea; a breathy synth pad ringing out ominously. I think this track was great way to begin the album on a subtler note, as without any context, I would definitely be on the edge of my seat in anticipation for whatever is to come next.
As the track concludes we enter ‘MANTRA’, the debut single from ‘amo’ and with good reason, it’s an absolute ripper! Packed with punchy hard rock guitar riffs, catchy and memorable vocal hooks and commanding lyricism mirroring the mind of a cultist, ‘MANTRA’ is an unmistakable anthem that sticks within a vein similar to some of the heavier moments from their previous 2015 LP ‘That’s The Spirit’. I thoroughly enjoyed this track!
Up next is ‘nihilist blues’, and to me, this is where problems started to arise upon my first listen. Going straight from a hard-hitting rock anthem into an electro-pop tune that feels like it would have charted in 2009 is a transition that I found to be extremely jarring, especially considering that we’re only on track three. Had it not been for Oliver Sykes’ unmistakable voice, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d accidentally switched to another album entirely. For the record, I don’t think that ‘nihilist blues’ is at all a bad song. I actually love it! The inclusion of art-pop singer Grimes serves to add a nice contrast between the two vocalists and there’s also some sweet, experimental rhythmic moments in here that I can really appreciate. For example, I bet you didn’t realise that the entire bridge section is literally a metalcore breakdown replicated using electronic elements.
Following ‘nihilist blues’, ‘in the dark’ starts with a vibe that remains quite consistent with what you would expect to hear from a recent Taylor Swift record, for example. But rather than going down the path of straight up, unapologetic electro-pop, the track begins to sprinkle subtle elements of rock here and there. This not only allows for an interesting back and forth between the elements of pop and rock music, but also, in my opinion, sets up quite nicely for the album’s next track ‘wonderful life’.
As the second single to be released from ‘amo’, ‘wonderful life’ is another track from the album’s heavier side. In fact, the song was actually written for nu metal icons Limp Bizkit, but has since been repurposed for this record. Sonically, it’s quite similar to MANTRA; heavily overdriven guitars, pounding half time rhythms and huge anthem-worthy vocal hooks which contemplate one’s own mind and state of happiness. The main riff is gloriously bouncy, and the whole song just feels punchy and badass. Dani Filth even guests to help portray a conflict between the persona’s pessimistic view of the world and their ironic enjoyment of a wonderful, yet gloomy life! Although, I do feel his appearance was a little underused. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed its heaviness and groove; it can become a little overly simplistic at times, and the lyricism here isn’t quite the most creative that ‘amo’ has to offer.
‘ouch’ is the second interlude track from ‘amo’ and acts as a set up for ‘medicine’, both songs serving as a commentary of the recent divorce between Sykes and former-partner Hannah Snowden. It’s quite short and doesn’t contain too many elaborate musical ideas, but the production in particular is top-notch, with little short musical clips being tied together seamlessly on top of speedy, trip hop-esc drum rhythms (which I really, really dug), strong synths and high, pitch shifted vocals. There’s even a cheeky little reference to their own song ‘Follow You’.
Check out our full review of ‘medicine’ in our review section, linked below!
Following ‘medicine’, the latter half of ‘amo’ becomes quite the assortment of stylistic directions, and within my first impressions, I’d been convinced that the album had lost its way entirely by now. After a few listens, that couldn’t be any further from the truth! I quite enjoyed the heavier ‘sugar honey ice & tea’, and even the chilling, trap-infused ‘why you gotta kick me when i’m down’ has some excellent, emotional moments. ‘fresh bruises’ is also insanely vibey and structurally intriguing; fondly reminding me of Linkin Park’s interlude track ‘Session’, and even Mike Shinoda’s own instrumental ‘Brooding’! The only song that I can say I genuinely disliked would probably be ‘mother tongue’, as I found it to be quite generic and thus, is probably my least favourite track from ‘amo’. I will however commend Sykes for his exceptional vocal delivery on this track!
By now, I think it’s clear that the only rules Bring Me The Horizon brought into writing this album was to be as out-of-the-box as possible.
Dialling up the heaviness once again is, well, ‘heavy metal’! The song’s title makes reference to a comment on Instagram in which a kid proclaims “this ain’t heavy metal”. It serves as a basis on which Sykes takes the piss out of those pesky ‘fans’ who constantly demand a return to their metalcore roots. Musically, the track is fairly whacky and experimental; constantly switching between heavy guitar riffs, incredibly catchy choruses, electro-pop synths, and even beatboxing, provided by guest artist Rahzel! I fucking LOVE IT! There’s also a short, 4-bar breakdown right at the end of the track with some surprise screaming; no doubt to tease the haters one last time. Despite my praise, I will however admit that much like ‘wonderful life’, this song isn’t exactly the greatest for its lyricism. It’s nothing unbearably bad though, and it easily beats much of the lyrical content from their last record ‘That’s The Spirit’! Either way, ‘heavy metal’ is an absolute ripper of a track and one of my absolute favourites!
‘i don’t know what to say’ is the final track from ‘amo’, and it sees Sykes deliver one of his most nervous, emotional performances yet. The song was written in dedication to his childhood friend Aidan, whose life was tragically taken by cancer after the song’s composition and recording in 2017. An obviously haunting subject, Sykes’ pure emotion is flawlessly supported by a melodic, symphony-meets-rock musical style with tremendous textural and dynamic shifts throughout its progression. String quartets and acoustic guitars transition into huge, climactic choruses with overdriven electric guitars and large orchestral ensembles and there’s even a neat guitar solo towards the end. All of this serves to deliver an impactful, epic conclusion to ‘amo’ that leaves me wanting more. It’s a brilliant track, and perfect way to conclude an album!
To say that ‘amo’ is an interesting experience would be a huge understatement. Had you asked me on release day, I probably would have told you this album is an absolute mess, and in some ways, it kinda is. It’s Bring Me The Horizon’s very own ‘A Thousand Suns’, a polarising collection of excellent ideas combined in such a way that will leave you wondering what the hell you had just heard. And whilst it’s structural flow doesn’t always seem to exactly ‘work’, it’s pieced together in such a unique way that once you give yourself time to digest each concept, it really becomes an admirable attempt at breaking away from genre standards and expectations in a hope to develop a sound which is truly theirs. It’s not a metal album, it’s not even a rock or a pop album, it’s a gateway between genres, crafted from the minds of a band that has evolved so much since their beginnings. ‘amo’ is great. Don't forget that you can catch BMTH on tour this April.
Would You Go And See Them (WYGAST): 4/5
Personal Enjoyment: 9/10