Bring Me The Horizon have never been an easy band to assess with sweeping statements. Throughout their career, they’ve swayed from deathcore to metalcore to pop-infused rock with impressive lucidity. amo is sure to divide fans, but cements the band as an arena-conquering juggernaut – not that there were many doubts.
Opening with beautifully breezy electronic flourishes, ‘i apologise if you feel something’ is an instant introduction to the new BMTH; atmospheric and showcasing a more slow-burn approach than we’ve heard previously. As the track crescendos into ‘MANTRA’, we’re introduced to the album’s first riffs and a disappointingly vapid chorus. Thankfully, ‘wonderful life’ is a more biting and dangerous track, it’s opening croon is soon swallowed by an almost dirty guitar hook. Vocalist Oli Sykes commands the track with his vocal range, effortlessly switching off between clean and screamed vocals, bolstered by a surprising appearance from Dani Filth, which feels a bit shoehorned in.
In fact, Sykes is excellent throughout, his vocals a particular highlight on ‘in the dark’ and his hooks as polished as can be. The high point being the earworm-worthy chorus on ‘medicine’ which serves as the catchiest track, while ‘sugar honey ice & tea’ features some of his finest work, breathless verses dovetail brilliantly with a chorus built on pop music but sprinkled with his signature scream towards the end.
Jordan Fish’s excellent electronic textures are layered throughout the album, felt especially on ‘nihilist blues’ – a track sure to divide older fans of the band with its reliance on borderline dance music levels of glistening synths. Grimes featuring here will draw undoubted comparisons with Lights’ appearance all those years ago, but lacks the interesting song structure that bought out the best in those appearances. That said, her vocals offer a nice yin to Sykes’ raspy yang. ‘ouch’ feels like a true showcase of Fish’s electronica prowess, full of stunted drum machine parts and samples, and while it’s one of the clear outliers on the album, it serves as a great palette cleanser.
Of course, never one to shy away from controversy, following on from the almost overly saccharine “mother tongue”, “heavy metal” showcases the band at their most self-aware and openly referencing their transition from metalcore icons into whatever you could define them as now.
Maybe that’s the point – BMTH are now as difficult to pigeonhole as compatriots Enter Shikari, or even The 1975. It feels as if the ratios have been reversed from That’s The Spirit, those pop hooks that were bubbling under the surface have now run amok, and the rock roots are harder to find. If you’re expecting the breakdowns and blast beats of the band’s earlier works you’ll likely be disappointed, but knowing BMTH as a band to defy expectation and convention, this shouldn’t surprise many. It’s the end of BMTH as we know it, but builds them into a new beast that they’ve been working towards for the last few years. It’s controversial, yes, but still well worth a spin.