It’s been two years since Bring Me released their phenomenal, breakthrough record Sempiternal, an album that saw the band rise rapidly up the ranks on festival bills, and even saw the band headline Wembley Arena on a one off date last December. Now, the highly anticipated That’s The Spirit is released today, but with the band’s gradual metamorphosis from death metal newbies to rock superstars, do the boys lose anything on the way, or will this new release cement their claims to the throne and give Bring Me The Horizon those headline slots they so badly yearn for? Let’s find out!
Kicking off the album is the slow burning Doomed, finding more influence from Massive Attack than Metallica, the song builds slowly as vocalist Oli Sykes brings his trademark scream down to a whisper, softly accompanying the gentle track as it ascends to occasional crescendo, featuring a catchy chorus that really encapsulates the sound of the rest of the album. The track showcases BMTH’s ability to master such a vast soundscape, a skill they’ve been very much honing over the course of their career. From the gentle, calculated rhythm of Doomed¸ we’re launched into, arguably, the record’s heaviest track, Happy Song. As the album’s unofficial title track, this call to arms is one that simply cannot be ignored. Gentle strings once again accompany the dark synth provided by keyboardist Jordan Fish, with a crushingly heavy riff kicking the song into overdrive in all the right places. The song’s chanted refrain (“S/P/I/R/I/T, SPIRIT, LET’S HEAR IT!”) only feels more relevant on repeated listens, adding a thinly veiled sarcasm to the track’s optimistic nature. It wouldn’t be wrong to claim that of all the songs found here, this is the one song that could still be compared to BMTH of the past.
Lead single Throne proves to be a major, experimental journey into BMTH’s use of electronics even further, containing yet another chest beating, anthemic chorus, something this album has in absolute spades. Echoing nu-metal legends Linkin Park throughout the track, the song has Radio 1 single written all over it, and remains one of the finest nu-metal bangers outside of 1999. Lyrics here are strong, showcasing in great detail Sykes’ ability to craft a beautiful chorus. However, this cannot be said for True Friends, which unfortunately commences with a simplistic, poor opening line that unfortunately repeats throughout the song. Nonetheless, the symphonic, epic opening riff of the song carries it along nicely, meaning not all is lost on the garage-band quality lyrics heard here. However, it may be obvious and more than just a little clichéd, but it’s relatable, and I’m sure I’ll see it quoted on Instagram for months to come.
Opening like something from NWA’s back catalogue, Follow You is a surprisingly refreshing, BMTH-style take on the hip hop, RNB genre. Clean arpeggic guitars and a trip-hop beat carry Sykes’ soft vocal, with occasional inclusion of backing vocals from Fish during choruses, creating a dynamic that’s pretty satisfying to listen to. While it’s certainly a departure from the band’s usual fare, it’s one of the most successful experiments on the album, and the band ought to be commended for their insistence on the track making the cut. From one genre to another, What You Need begins in an almost Good Charlotte, Lostprophets style groove. It’s certainly not the best the album has to offer, it’s yet another example of a band pushing their comfort zone further and further, and once again it pays off for the boys.
Well, yet another band metal band used a horn section to my absolute delight this year. Avalanche is yet another crescendo driven track, guiding the listener down gentle roads before an intense, vast chorus (featuring the aforementioned trumpets), and it can genuinely catch the listener off guard. I know it did for me, and is certainly one of the most unique songs on the album, channelling an almost Don Broco-like sensibility. Run features one of the biggest choruses the album has to offer, it’s just a shame the rest of the song is relatively unremarkable. One of the more dull slow burners on the album, it’s clear the band have settled into a ‘style’ for these kinds of songs, and unfortunately this song just doesn’t manage to stand out above the superb material that surrounds it.
We’ve all heard Drown, right? No? Well, if you haven’t, go listen to it. A true anthem in every sense of the word, the song is absolutely huge. Without a doubt the best chorus on the album, and a true classic waiting to be discovered by the rest of the listening world, Drown is set to feature on compilations and get played into oblivion on the radio for many, many years to come. Catchy hooks, beautiful use of melodic backing vocals, powerful beats and calculated use of simplistic guitar lines create one hell of a soundscape, and this is just one of those songs that must be heard live to be believed. Blasphemy is yet another surefire festival favourite, a dark, brooding track absolutely drenched in atmosphere featuring a fantastic performance from Oli, and a wonderful sense of ‘just enough’ guitar use. Nothing THAT much to say about this track, but it’s got swagger for days, and the song will certainly go down a treat in a live setting. A great song, through and through.
Finishing the album is Oh No, a track that begins as though it’d fit perfectly on the Hotline Miami soundtrack. Clicking past at a comfortable mid tempo, the song is an infectious throwback to the hits of the 90’s, with an almost disco-like drumbeat pulling the song along, as well as an effective, if not baffling, jazzy, blues-tinged mid section that personally, I adore. It’s a great closer, and one that leaves the listener with just enough energy and drive to start the album over once again.
So, have Bring Me The Horizon done the impossible? Well, let’s just get one thing out of the way; That’s The Spirit is nowhere near as good an album as Sempiternal, or There Is A Hell before it. But what it is, is a perfect mainstream rock record. It’s got tonnes of great songs, choruses, catchy hooks and riffs. It’s definitely worth mentioning that guitar work here is effective in the way that in every track there’s just enough of it. Not too much, but just enough to lay in the mix and provide a beautiful clarity and accompaniment to the rest of the rhythm section. The band have come through with a great record here, and I have absolutely no doubt you’ll see them headlining festivals within the years to come. If you were sick of reading about Bring Me The Horizon before, get ready to avoid music publications altogether for the rest of your life, because, well, they’re the future. I think I’ve said that already.