Thursday, September 24

Album review: Bring Me the Horizon’s ‘amo’ refreshes in raw instrumentation, metalcore subversion

(Courtesy of RCA Records)


Bring Me the Horizon

RCA Records

Released Jan. 25

“amo” proves emo angst and the sound of real instruments still exist in an era of overproduced pop hits.

Bring Me the Horizon’s sixth studio album, “amo,” released Friday, much to the anticipation of scene kids everywhere. Following up the band’s 2015 release of “That’s the Spirit,” the new album runs 13 tracks and continues the band’s recent trend of straying from their metalcore past. As the album progresses, lead singer Oli Sykes alludes in the lyrics to some of his fans who prefer the harder sound of their past, but the band does not seem afraid of diving into their pop-rock future.

Almost every song title on the LP is stylized in the same nonchalant lowercase format. The second song “MANTRA” strays from this pattern, and rightfully so, as its bold lyrics makes it stand out against the other tracks as an anthem. Listeners are immediately met with a jarring electric guitar intro that establishes the rock qualities of the record. Sykes’ sporadic screaming throughout the track also matches the intensity of the instruments playing behind him. As “MANTRA” carves its own path when compared to the repetitive sound of music in today’s charts, the lyrics critique the public’s tendency to blindly follow trends.

“nihilist blues” follows directly after “MANTRA” and features synth-pop singer Grimes. The more heavily produced beats in the track show its slight pop influences. Bring Me the Horizon’s deep lyrical style mixed with Grimes’ melancholic tone in the chorus creates a dark yet danceable feeling – similar to the vibe of a rave, if it took place Hot Topic. The song is almost six minutes long, but the mix of smooth vocals and fast and catchy beats make it enjoyable until the end.

Amidst angsty songs about the darkness of life and past relationships, “ouch” offers a break from the longer, heavier tracks. The faster, more electronic beats of the song offset the rock elements of the album to prevent it from sticking strictly to just one genre.

“amo” continues to uphold its modern take on an early 2000s rock sound with “medicine.” The track’s bold and resentful lyrics go well with the more polished instrumental sounds of electric guitars and drums. While the backing gives the song radio potential, Sykes’ gritty vocals and spiteful lyrics secure the band’s transition into pop-rock style as he sings, “Some people are a lot like clouds you know/ ‘Cause life’s so much brighter when they go.”

The album’s trend towards implementing heavier production continues through tracks such as “sugar honey ice & tea.” But the band is careful to cleverly address how much they have changed since their metal days. Sykes sings about the complicated relationship he has had with his fans as his band’s sound has changed throughout the years in “why you gotta kick me when i’m down?” However, the song maintains a confident tone while Sykes sings, “when all is said and done, my name’s still on your tongue.”

In “fresh bruises,” repetitive lyrics are balanced with a fun drum-led instrumental breakdown and serve as a transition into the record’s final phase. “heavy metal” follows after and lives up to its name. Full electric guitars dominate the track and the lyrics blatantly address the complaints of older fans about Bring Me the Horizon’s movement away from metalcore. Sykes sings, “some kid on the ‘gram said he used to be a fan/ But this shit ain’t heavy metal,” while cleverly contrasting his acknowledgement of the band’s new sound with a scream similar to prior albums in their discography. His ironic use of the band’s older style in this track shows that the band can still reproduce metal-inspired music but prefer to experiment with a new sound.

“mother tongue” and “i don’t know what to say” stand out as the most vulnerable songs on LP as it comes to a close. Sykes opens up into a sweet love song “mother tongue” – and the ad-libbing in the bridge makes the track sound genuine and rough around the edges. Its catchy chorus makes it easily blend rock with pop, making the genre fit in with popular music of today. “i don’t know what to say” finds a way to combine strings with drums and a strong electric guitar solo. Sykes uses the song to end the album on a mournful note about a friend from his past.

The guitar and drum beats of “amo” are a refreshing taste when compared to other music produced today that often sounds computer-generated. Bring Me the Horizon is honest about their evolution throughout the album. By adding subtle pop influences on their new record, they set themselves up for success with music that keeps the band rooted firmly in the present while referencing the sounds of their past.

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