British metalcore band, Bring Me the Horizon, has made quite a progression in their sound and popularity since they formed in 2004 as a deathcore band. Their older music was breakdown-centric and followed the trends of most metalcore bands at the time, while in Bring Me the Horizon’s new effort, “Sempiternal,” we see them in a new light.
Upon listening to the first song, “Can You Feel My Heart,” listeners will think it is a remix with the sudden electronic vocals being used as an instrument in the grand reverberated intro with synth, guitar, bass and drums coming in, but then you hear vocalist, Oli Sykes, scream that transition into cleanly sung vocals. This immediate change in sound may seem jarring, considering Bring Me the Horizon’s history; however, with their previous album, “There Is A Hell, Believe Me I’ve Seen It,” they hinted at their post-rock and electronic influences, but on “Sempiternal,” they fully embrace an entirely new sound.
Moving on to the album itself, the second song, “The House of Wolves,” allows the listener to become more comfortable after hearing the first song as “The House of Wolves” is closer to the band’s original sound while still maintaining the electronic influence. The guitar work is typical Bring Me the Horizon style during the heavy moments on the album: breakdowns, groovy riffs, chord progressions, and some solos, but once you get to the seventh track, “And the Snakes Start to Sing,” both rhythm and lead guitar work well together in their echoing, clean riffs to create a haunting ambience. This song is the most experimental on the album, as it is dominated by clean vocals and synth.
The electronic effects are a major catalyst in creating Bring Me the Horizon’s new sound; their newest member, Jordan Fish (programmer/keyboardist), and his influence shows throughout the album. The drums and bass are also very competent in the mix, but it is clear, the focus of this album is the guitar work, the electronic effects and Sykes’ vocals. Speaking of which, Sykes has changed his vocal style entirely. On the band’s “Count Your Blessings” album, his vocals were guttural and raw, then for the more recent albums, he utilized his mid-range screams much more.
In “Sempiternal,” Sykes has found the line between singing and screaming, and it makes him sound more passionate than ever. His lyrics have also matured, and the theme of the album seems to be anti-religious, which is evident in songs like “House of Wolves,” with lyrics such as, “And when you die the only kingdom you’ll see is two-foot wide and six feet deep,” and “Crooked Young,” with Sykes screaming, “Believe in no one. Find yourself. The faceless won’t save you. The clouds won’t hear your f***ing prayers.” The production does wonders to help the band find their own sound. The producer of “Sempiternal,” Terry Date, has worked with bands such as Slipknot, Deftones and Limp Bizkit, and this album shows his influence as some of the songs have a very nu-metal feel to them that are similar to the bands he has produced albums for.
While “Sempiternal” has a lot going for it, it is not perfect by any means. The worst song on the album is “Anti-Vist.” Not only is it terrible lyrically and musically, with its abundance of boring breakdowns and thoughtless lyrics like “Middle fingers up if you don’t give a f***,” but it completely ruins the flow of the album toward the end. This song was geared toward older fans, as it is supposedly the heaviest track and the most immaturely written.
Overall, “Sempiternal” is a remarkable step for Bring Me the Horizon. It shows them branching out and experimenting with their sound, making them a black sheep in the herd of generic metalcore. This could be considered Bring Me the Horizon’s magnum opus, but only thus far. “Sempiternal” is only the tip of the iceberg. They can only improve from here on out.