And so the cycle resumes. As a generation of metal fans prepare to herald the return of the most controversial stars in the history of the game with joyously baited breath and sweaty-palmed anticipation, so do the cynics and perma-frowned party poopers sharpen their knives and practise their very best excuses as to why we should even be having a conversation about the validity of Bring Me The Horizon in 2013. Here we go again. Same old story. Right?
Well, maybe not. Even given the surprising sonic leap that 2010’s There Is A Hell… offered, the manner in which Sempiternal announces its arrival is little short of breathtaking. Exploding into life in defiant, uplifting fashion, Can You Feel My Heart is a stunning cascade of anthemic electronica and slow, methodical beats. Keyboardist and new boy Jordan Fish’s impact has been as immediate as it has been huge, and Terry Date’s production has taken a band that already sounded like bona fide arena-fillers and turned them into a cannon-blasting, laser-beaming, planet-eating hurricane.
Both The House Of Wolves and Empire bring us into more familiar territory, with their barrages of crunchy, Slipknot-friendly riffs merging beautifully with delicate electronic flourishes and those now well-honed and fucking huge vocal lines (especially Oli Sykes’s venomously delivered ‘The wolves are at my door’ line in Empire). More importantly, they act as a perfect foil to Sleepwalking; a grandiose piano, guitar and electronica-powered number that manages to nail the kind of ground that In Flames have been flirting with the last five years. Glorious.
Go To Hell For Heaven’s Sake would have been one of the strongest numbers on the last album, yet here it is simply one of the bouncier, straight-ahead ‘fun’ tracks that Sempiternal has to offer, paving the way for Shadow Moses to land with enough force to melt the face off Mount Rushmore. On its own, it’s a solid single. Embedded within the flow of Sempiternal, it really flies.
And The Snakes Start To Sing is almost Deftonesian in its beautifully wretched, sprawling and deceptively ambient chorus, while Seen It All Before offers a brief and melancholic respite before the fantastically silly Anti-Vist arrives to write off any other song planning to enter the Most Effective And Quite Frankly Brilliant Nu Metal Revival competition this year. ‘Middle fingers up/If you don’t give a fuck’? Yup, backing it.
Crooked Young slows things back down rather lusciously to a more grinding, sprawling pace, before an echoey spoken-word segment by Oli paves the way for Hospital For Souls – a soaring, strings and synth-propelled climax that, if you were in any doubt by this stage that it hadn’t happened already, throws just about everything BMTH have left in their arsenal into a huge, slow-burning, beautifully constructed, six-minute-plus crescendo of noise.
Put plainly, Sempiternal isn’t simply the best album of BMTH’s career. It’s one of the best albums of recent times – metal or otherwise. The time to embrace the genre’s modern trailblazers has come.