Bring Me The Horizon ended last year with a triumphant Wembley show, solidifying their status as a cultural phenomenon.
Their songs soared in such a huge setting, while fans flew over the barrier in a constant stream of carnage. Written off the back of that immense headline appearance, fifth album That’s The Spirit is the sound of a metal band writing arena-filling rock, firmly holding on to their identity but taking the biggest leap yet in their consistent album-by-album evolution.
The band’s intense guitar tones and signature synths remain, but their music is more hook-laden and catchier than ever, with the screaming dialled back and sometimes even cut midway through. Don’t let the changes fool you, though – these songs are still undeniably heavy, packing a dense sound that bursts with noise. It’s an updated version of the trick nu metal managed to pull off; some of the electronics, such as the refrain on Blasphemy, could easily sit on a Linkin Park record, while the opening riff on True Friends invokes Papa Roach. BMTH push beyond that era, though, invoking the expanse of 90s industrial bands such as Filter, the wails of Nine Inch Nails, and the cheerleader chants of Faith No More (see Happy Song). Then there are shades of Britpop’s swagger and radio-friendliness in the loudness of the guitars and parts of Oli Sykes’ vocal delivery. At the slower end of the spectrum, Avalanche offers a toned-down take on The Prodigy’s beats, while trip-hop complements the emotional vulnerability displayed on love song Follow You. There’s even a surprising soft-rock saxophone turn on drug-weary club closer, Oh No. The diversity somehow works, as the band turn music’s past into an impressively polished metallic sound of a new future.
Writ large across these multi-layered sonic canvases is Bring Me’s attitude; again, for all the upbeat aspects of its sound, and for all the clean singing, this is a record laced with a darkness that’s rarely seen in music this accessible. Its title, That’s The Spirit, is a sarcastic take on the grin-and-bear-it British resolve, neatly encapsulated by their new cartoon umbrella logo. In What You Need, the casual morbidity of the lyric, ‘You make me wanna slit my wrists and play in my own blood’ is punctuated with a bombastic, sugar-rush, fuck-it riff that’s set to spark frenzied crowd activity. It’s incongruous. Dissonant. Artistic. Unlike Antivist from 2013’s Sempiternal, there are no middle fingers up; no vitriolic impact of a word like ‘cunt’. Even the fucks are few and far between now.
Like In Flames before them, Bring Me have taken their love of the Gothenburg sound into a more mainstream realm, but with the northern five-piece, it’s that bit more expansive, that bit more ironic, and that bit more British. One second Bring Me will sound like a rock band, and the next they’ll remind you why they’re not, and of their irrefutable metal roots. A risk? You bet. A successful risk? Undoubtedly. This record is set to take the band right back into the arenas where they belong, and straight to the top of festival bills. That’s the spirit, lads.
HOW WAS THE PROCESS OF MAKING THAT’S THE SPIRIT, COMPARED WITH SEMPITERNAL?
“Within a month of headlining Wembley, we were writing the next album. It’s been six months writing and recording the album, and it’s the longest time I’ve ever dedicated to anything. I’ve never given that much time every day for six months – it’s insane.”
WHAT MADE YOU WORK SO HARD THIS TIME AROUND?
“I guess we knew after writing Sempiternal people liked it and said it was good. We’ve always had this thing where we get a little ‘upper’ on the fact that people thought we used to be shit, so every time we do something good, it’s like, ‘Oh, this is really good!’ Even with Sempiternal, it was like, ‘Oh, he can sing!’ which is surprising, so whenever we do anything good, we get an extra push, ’cause we’re a band people used to think were shit. With this one, we didn’t want it to be really good for us; we wanted to make an album you can give to anyone who doesn’t know what we do and say it’s amazing. It meant having to work that hard every day.”
WHY DID YOU AND JORDAN DECIDE TO PRODUCE THE RECORD YOURSELVES?
“We realised if you want something doing right, you’ve gotta do it yourself. It takes a few goes at realising it, ’cause it’s hard to believe that you can do better, that these people doing these jobs are doing these jobs for a reason ’cause they’re better than you, but you slowly find that it’s not true. Not to downtalk anyone, but with Sempiternal it didn’t work out. We were fighting for what we wanted, and it was like, ‘Why are we paying so much money to fight?’ We couldn’t have done it without Jordan – he’s the technical whizz.”