Bring Me the Horizon are, what, the 3rd Metalcore act to abandon the genre for Nu Metal? It used to be the opposite.
The change Bring Me made is amazing. Linkin Park will be name-dropped in almost every review of this album and they should be. There is a similarity in sound, but what they both have in common is the desire to re-invent themselves. When this guy blasted songs from Sempiternal I was shocked at how different it was. When I blasted “Happy Song” a different guy was shocked it was the same band.
What is it in fame that causes some artists to fall apart, and others to aim high? It seems that with every new album, Bring Me are trying to justify their existence and popularity. They don’t try to justify it to people who dislike them because they’re not Iron Maiden. They know “Pray for Plagues” is barely worth being a demo. I still think the only reason it got popular is because of that porn sample in the end.
So That’s the Spirit is another reinvention, but it sounds necessary. It doesn’t sound like an exercise to impress anymore. Sykes talked about this being a concept album about depression. Now, whenever artist talk about their albums having a concept they tend to bullshit (even if the concept exists). Sykes’ statement isn’t complete bullshit, though. The album sounds way more sincere than anything like it.
Speaking of depression…
The orignal Nu Metallers didn’t understood their emotions. They just vented them. That makes for great music to work out to, but there aren’t many songs to point to and say ‘this is sums up the feeling’. The revivalists had time contemplating their emotions while blasting Slipknot. Like Islander and My Ticket Home, Bring Me’s are more focused on a certain subject or emotion.
That’s how you get the brilliant “Happy Song”. The lyrics sum up the reason such loud music exist. We sing a little fucking louder and it doesn’t solve our problems, but it sure makes us feel better. Sykes sound desperate to break out of the depression in the chorus (Notice how he emphasizes the word ‘fucking’. It sounds necessary this time). Then he moves to subdued vocals, admitting that he has no idea what to do with the storm in his head. The song ends with a breakdown and Sykes screaming the album title like he knows it doesn’t help but it’s better than nothing. It’s a song about fighting the depression that still acknowledges we can’t really get rid of that storm
The album can easily be divided to songs that get close to the song, and those that get a little lost. Nothing here is outright bad, but sometimes the idea of moving to melodic Rock gets the better of them. It’s weird to hear “Happy Song”, “Throne” and “Oh No” next to “Run” and “What You Need”. The latter songs sound like B-Sides that got big hooks but no conceptual focus.
The band is talented enough to make these songs worth blasting. Sykes’ vocals deserve a praise. He clearly sounds like a vocalist who only discovered melody recently. There’s an aggressive edge to his voice. He doesn’t need the Deahtcore growls anymore. His vocals with the thundering vocals in “Happy Song” are enough to make it sound heavy as a really heavy thing.
On the more conceptual half, the band sounds unstoppable. You’ve heard songs like “Follow You” and “Throne” before, but not like this. There have been many empowering songs, but few like “Throne”. Like Islander’s “Counteract”, it doesn’t sound angry. Sykes sound pretty happy on the verses. Covering it as a happy Pop song should be easy. On the former he’s transformed to a wimp who can’t help being attracted to someone that’s bad for him. He performs the song with all the vulnerability and hopeless the subject deserves. It’s the complete opposite of “Throne”.
Some songs land right in the middle. There is a great fuck-off song buried somewhere in “True Friends”. The punchline sure sounds good over such loud guitars, but all the other lyrics sound like they were copied from songs by lesser bands. It’s hard to believe some people still write lines like “It fell apart/right from the start”. Some just sound like B-Side, like the aforementioned “Run”. Nothing in it makes you want to turn down the volume, but it lacks something special. It’s just a good Hard Rock hook.
Even if it couldn’t utilize its concept in all the songs, it’s still a great Nu Metal album. It’s the sound of a band who experimented a lot, and now want their songwriting to carry them. They use their sound to enhance already good hooks. Even if there’s a gap of quality between songs like “Oh No” and “What You Need”, everything is worth spinning at least five times. Let’s just hope Bring Me won’t pull a back-to-basics record. They have too much personality and melodic talent to churn another Deathcore record.
3.5 happy songs out of 5