Sit down, I’m going to give it to you straight. If you’re a Bring Me The Horizon purist, then chances are you’re going to hate this album so much that you’ll wish it had a face, just so you could punch it.
Because the veteran British act’s fifth record, That’s The Spirit, signals their full and drastic metamorphosis from metalcore to mainstream.
Many of its 11 tracks probably have more in common with One Direction than Asking Alexandria. To begin with, the guitars are relegated to a largely supportive role, enabling frontman Oli Sykes to explore a strange new world of range-changing melodies and cleanskin vocal tones.
Stylistically, the disc treads across an odyssey of musical terrain, from the Linkin Park-ish nu metal leanings of its official first single, Throne, to the bass-driven alt-rock vibes of What You Need, to the bordering-dangerously-on-emo True Friends (which also happens to be the most ‘core song on the record), to the random Santana-esque Lee Malia blues guitar solo that cuts into Blasphemy, to the saxophone licks of Oh No, to the hip-hop beats and wondersoft pop-rock stylings of Follow You. Legit, if it wasn’t for a tiny glimpse of Sykes’ trademark vocal grit in the chorus, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a song by The Script. Or The Fray. Or Maroon 5.
But you know what? Sykes proves that he can croon and trip a dizzying falsetto with the best of those dudes, which makes it all the more earth-shakingly impressive when he shovels on the gravel or lets rip one of those dirty, sweet screams.
And it’s this winning blend of slippery, singable pop melodies building into crushing stadium rock fire that makes the disc’s first two licks, Drown and Happy Song absolute fucking masterpieces. In both tracks, Sykes’ voice soars, propped up by a Pink Floydian style children’s choir as the music rips into jet engine levels of distortion, fuelled by desperate lyrics about hopelessness, depression and despair.
And that, friends, is one of the main points where That’s The Spirit deviates from its polarising pop-rock formula. While the music may not be anywhere near as heavy as what you’ve come to expect from BMTH, thematically, it’s heavy AF.
Those earworm pop hooks and big car radio choruses conceal dark, confronting lyrics about loneliness and depression, that seem to call listeners into a collective feeling of togetherness, based on a common sense of being fucked in the head.
A well-established band with a history of musical integrity and an already massive fan base suddenly changes their sound to become more commercial. There will undoubtedly be those who’ll shake their heads and perhaps even symbolically back over their BMTH discography with their car, but ultimately the move is going to win the band legions more fans than it will cost them.
Regular jackoffs who’ve never heard the name “Bring Me The Horizon” before will suddenly be hearing their songs all over the radio, right there between Taylor Swift and Mumford And Sons.
If you ask me, the five boys from Sheffield’s musical about-face is all part of a strategic bid to become the biggest and most relevant heavy rock band in the world today. And if That’s The Spirit is anything to go by, they’ve got all the weapons they need in their arsenal to achieve that goal.
‘That’s The Spirit’ is out Friday September 11th, grab a pre-order right here.
Watch: Bring Me The Horizon – Drown