2013 has seen UK metalcore outfit Bring Me The Horizon serve up their fourth studio album. The proudly Sheffield founded five piece have changed up things since 2010’s offering “There Is A Hell Believe Me Ive Seen It. There Is A Heaven Lets Keep It A Secret.” The much anticipated new album composed of eleven tracks entitled “Sempiternal” brings a new label, a new producer, a new band member and a new direction which has culminated in somewhat of an unexpected yet exciting end product.
What is evident from the very outset of Sempiternal is that more or less are gone the early days of the band’s angst filled lyrics, aggressive breakdowns and sheer rawness. Lead singer Oli Sykes brings a more positive approach to the writing of the lyrics in this album, distant to the darkness of past releases. This newfound approach is coupled with remarkably clean vocals, with some tracks such as “Seen It All Before” and “Hospital For Souls” affording Sykes the opportunity to truly showcase his vocal exploits. The choice to utilise very clean vocals is sure to polarise old school BMTH fans, especially aficionados of 2006’s “Count Your Blessings”, however, the change is sure to engage new listeners and/or draw listeners back into the fray who have previously ignored the hype surrounding the band.
BMTH continue to transition along the musical genre spectrum. From the former days of deathcore featuring mindless screaming and disjointed song structures, the band now find themselves constructing an album blending traditional metalcore and subtle elements best characterised as the ever developing genre of electronicore. Whilst some will cite this change in output could be attributed to the band’s decision to get into bed with RCA (a subsidiary of Sony) for the recording of the fourth album, I am one to stand in the corner with others that acknowledge the immediate effect that new member Jordan Fish (keyboards/programming) has had. There was enough evidence in “There Is A Hell Believe Me Ive Seen It. There Is A Heaven Lets Keep It A Secret.” to see an adoption to integrate and experiment with electronica by teaming up with “Lights” and this complemented by Fish’s recruitment.
Putting aside Sykes’ spat with former and most recently departed guitarist Jona Weinhofen, the decision to bring in Jordan Fish (formerly of Worship) soon after as a replacement for the writing and recording of Sempiternal has exponentially paid dividends for the band in my opinion. Not since Enter Shikari’s 2009 album “Common Dreads” have I heard such fine utilisation and integration of synth and electronica into the recording and composition of post-hardcore/metalcore music. Fish’s influence is no more apparent or impressive than in Sempiternal’s first track; “Can You Feel My Heart”, where the looping of Sykes’ voice brilliantly smacks you in the face and immediately lets you know the album may not be what you were expecting of BMTH.
I would envisage that trying to temper the volatility of a sound such as that of Bring Me The Horizon’s whilst still allowing a band to maintain a uniqueness of their own would be no easy task, however, producer Terry Date (Limp Bizkit, Deftones, Pantera) has done a stunning job to intricately put all the pieces together. Sykes spoke on behalf of the band to positively acknowledge Date’s contribution in the superb outcome of the album and to state that “some of the work Date has done on the bands production makes Bring Me the Horizon sound like a completely different band”.
As a metalcore fan, regardless of your previous opinions of BMTH for better or for worse, you would do well to find many problems with Sempiternal. Apart from the occasional throwback to the foundation of BMTH’s sound which is somewhat exhibited through tracks such as “The House of Wolves” and particularly “Antivist” and will be sure to please some, fans wanting to inarticulately scream along with Oli on this album are going to be left disappointed. I wouldn’t say Sykes has truly matured as a songwriter or endured an epiphany with regards to the themes explored through the writing of the band’s lyrics but it is nice not have use to decipher exactly what is coming out of his mouth this time around.
The album’s strongest tracks are unsurprisingly the first two singles released; “Shadow Moses” and “Sleepwalking” with honourable mentions going out to; “Can You Feel My Heart”, “Seen It All Before” and “Hospital For Souls”. Not to take anything away from the band’s previous efforts but this is undoubtedly their best release yet from a personal standpoint. The album does a stellar job in displaying all the hallmarks of a typically great metalcore album and the integration of electronica and clean vocals (be it intentional or not) is sure to open up the band to a myriad of new listeners from more mainstream circles, both in Australia and internationally.