For a long time, the majority of my metal friends were metal snobs. You know, the type who will judge you for listening to anything that isn’t “metal” and who have very strict opinions on what can be classified as metal at the same time. Over the years, I learned to ignore them and admit that I like a lot of music, from IRON MAIDEN and BLIND GUARDIAN to SHINEDOWN and LADY GAGA. This meant admitting that I occasionally like poppy metal as well.
I was introduced to BRING ME THE HORIZON by a friend about a year or so ago. By that, I mean that I’ve known about the band for a long time but I was still struggling with the preconceptions about metalcore and lighter metal that had been implanted in my head by the snobs. Also, I was a little skeptical about a band that took their name from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, as I’ve mentioned at least once before. I knew they existed but hadn’t ever bothered to listen to them. When I did, I realized that I actually really enjoy their music.
BMTH’s new album, “That’s the Spirit,” Is released on September 11th, 2015, and after giving it a listen a few times I decided that it’s undoubtedly worthy of a write-up.
The first song, “Doomed” starts things off with prominent dynamics, mixing both gentle and strong sounds and vocals. It works really well as a first track because the verses are quite chill, like an intro track, but the chorus is really powerful and draws you in. I like these metal bands that aren’t afraid to mix some pop production into their music. If you know how to blend these things it can really work to your favor and this album manages to do it throughout to a really good effect. “Happy Song” follows up “Doomed” and it has one quality that stands out to me – I’ve never been a big fan of the youth/child chorus, but this song actually makes it sound pretty decent. Adding “S-P-I-R-I-T, spirit, let’s hear it!” and “that’s the spirit” to the lyrics brings the title track in without it actually being a title track, which I would be happy to hear a bit more often.
“Throne” was the clear choice for first single as it’s one of the hardest-hitting songs on the album. The lyrics in this song have some real kick to them: “So you can throw me to the wolves/ Tomorrow I will come back/ Leader of the whole pack/ Beat me black and blue/ Every wound will shape me/ Every scar will build my throne…” I love that. There’s a lot of raw feeling in the lyrics and it’s blended very sharply into really strong, powerful music. The best part is you could take the antagonist of the song to be a person or a mental illness or really anything that stands in your way, so most people can probably feel something when listening to this one.
“Throne” is followed by another killer with equally good lyrics, “True Friends,” which shares the idea that: “True friends stab you in the front.” For me, this sounds like a song about not putting up with shit from friends and loved ones and getting fed up with being treated poorly. “Follow You” tones down the betrayal-followed-by-strength theme and flips it around to love and dedication, with a song about being willing to go through hell for a person. It fits into its fourth song slot perfectly, so that the album doesn’t become bogged down by too many dark and heavy -themed songs.
“What You Need” is probably my least favorite song on this album and it still manages to be a really great song. I can’t quite decide what sets it below some of its companions. The lyrics are still good, certainly, but perhaps I’m not in a place in my life where they are as relevant as when I was younger. Or maybe “You make me want to slit my wrists and play in my own blood,” is a bit emo for me. Still, great track and it doesn’t interrupt anything, but maybe is a bit more of a teenager-focused than some of the others.
“Avalanche,” on the other hand, is another one of my favorites in an album full of 5-star tracks. It really sounds like a song about someone with some problems that they can’t figure out and are desperate for some answers, and who in this world doesn’t understand how that feels? It’s pretty poetic too: “I need a cure for me ‘cause the square doesn’t fit the circle/ Give me a remedy, because my head wasn’t wired for this world…” That’s a really great way to put it. There’s also another great lyric about the weight of things feeling like hands on your neck.
I get back into the ’90s vibe with “Run.” Again, this isn’t one of my favorites but still manages to hold up with the rest. It’s tough to be the track that’s merely great amongst other tracks that are excellent, isn’t it? The backing chorus returns again in “Drown” and continues to add to the music, rather than dragging it down. This one is another easy song to connect to – something is wrong, everything is not all right, and taking on the world alone feels impossible. “Who will fix me now/ Dive in when I’m down/ Save me from myself/ Don’t let me drown…”
I love the sounds in “Blasphemy.” There’s a really intense ’90s alternative rock thing lurking in some of these songs and it’s more evident than ever in “Blasphemy” with a sound that brings me back to the days of RADIOHEAD and THE CURE. Strong lyrics again, and just a really strong song all around. Another top track for me for sure. Also, I’ll let you read the lyrics for yourself, but I really dig the message here.
The album comes to a close with “Oh No,” and this brings everything to a sweet finish. The whole thing ends on a high note with this track. The music moves in an upbeat, upwards motion, but the song still feels rather conclusive. It parallels “Doomed” really nicely in this sense – while “Doomed” felt like an intro, “Oh No” feels like an outro and the whole thing comes full circle.
Firstly, I have to admit that I like this style of music. In some way or another, it reminds me of other bands I’ve listened to over the years, from LOSTPROPHETS to AFI, THE USED, 30 SECONDS TO MARS, LINKIN PARK, ALTER BRIDGE, and even as far over as BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE. So the sound is great, but also, the lyrics and message are really encouraging. These songs are easy to connect with, and they cover some dark themes, but the overall impression is positive – fight back, survive, and be strong. They’re catchy, they have hooks, they have good live sing-a-long potential, and the whole thing is a nothing short of a massive victory. I was pretty sure at this point nothing was going to top some of the other great 2015 albums, but “That’s the Spirit” is definitely going on my list of contenders for best album of the year!
Written by Bear Wiseman
- Happy Song
- True Friends
- Follow You
- What You Need
- Oh No
Oliver Sykes – vocals
Lee Malia – guitars
Jordan Fish – keyboards
Matt Kean – bass
Matt Nicholls – drums, percussion
Sony / Columbia / RCA
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