Review Summary: In an attempt to distance themselves from their deathcore roots, Bring Me The Horizon has revamped their style. Sadly, the album ends up being about as interesting and original as their haircuts...
2006 saw the release of Count Your Blessings, Bring Me The Horizon's debut full length. Depending on what side of the fence you were standing on, the album was either held in great adoration by those around you, or you were standing in the midst of the thousands that ridiculed the album seemingly to no end. Complaints of the album ranged from Oliver Sykes rather harsh vocal delivery to the slightly underwhelming guitar work, not to mention the endless expanses of breakdowns. With Suicide Season, the band has seemingly done everything they can to distance themselves from their deathcore roots, and whether this was due to the harsh criticism of the band's previous work or the fact that the band had genuinely moved on can be decided by the listener.
Whenever a band is ridiculed for their sound, especially as much as BMTH has been, the subsequent releases tend to be advertised as something new and refreshing. So does Suicide Season deliver on this promise? Well in a way yes. Nearly every aspect of the band's sound, including the vocal delivery, guitar work, drumming, and even lyrical aspects have been retooled. Sadly, the change doesn't always work out for the better. Instead of the usual mixture of chugging breakdowns and moderate technicality found on CYB, the chugging riffs have become the dominant ones here. There are a few technical flourishes here and there, but they seem to be added as somewhat of an afterthought. There are a few points where the guitarists get adventurous and attempt an atmospheric approach, (see It Was Written In Blood), but these attempts are largely underwhelming and they feel terribly forced for the most part. In fact, most of the album shows a band that is attempting to force itself in a direction it isn't comfortable going in just yet.
Another major difference is in the vocal department. At the very least, Sykes had a fairly decent range on previous releases, switching back and forth from high screams, raspy shouts, and deep growls, but here he sticks almost entirely to his throaty shouts, and it gets a little tiring after a few songs. The lyrical content also seems a bit awkward at times, mostly due to the fact that some lines seem to have just been injected into the lyrics to give people something to shout. The "Repent, Repent!" section in Chelsea Smile is a near perfect example of this, as the line barely fits with the rest of the song. Another instrument that suffers from being dumbed down is the drums. Matt Nichols has proven that he is a more than capable drummer in the past, with surprisingly technical fills and quick double bass work, but here he mainly follows the chugging patters of the guitar with his feet and the fills aren't nearly as abundant or impressive as they could be.
As a whole, the band seems to be suffering from something I like to call Trivium Syndrome. Trivium Syndrome sets in when a band starts performing a song that was originally written by a band that they idolize (for Trivium this was Master Of Puppets) and then seemingly sticks with that sound for the next album (like Trivium did for The Crusade, which was more or less a Metallica tribute album). For BMTH, that song was Eyeless by Slipknot. Various "Slipknot-isms" can be found throughout this album, whether its in the way the drums and guitars are produced, or the rather simplified guitar work that sticks mainly to the open B string. Slipknot comparisons aside, the album is just boring. The atmospheric and "experimental" sections seem to just be there to make the album "different", but all they do is interrupt the flow of the album, especially when they are thrown in the dead center of a song as in Chelsea Smile. The song contains a near minute long ambient/electronic section that breaks in about three minutes in for absolutely no reason, before the song continues a minute later.
When listened to as an album, it really just falls flat on its face. When heard to back to back, songs like Death Breath, Football Season Is Over, Sleep With One Eye Open, and Diamonds Aren't Forever just blend into one big mess of chugging guitars, harsh yelling, and attempted atmosphere. However, if you just pick and grab a few songs every now then they can be quite enjoyable in small doses. The new sound really only serves to alienate some old fans and it really doesn't do much to draw in new ones. If you must try it for yourself, just check out the singles, as they are really the strongest tracks here. Even though the sound has undoubtedly changed, if you didn't like Count Your Blessings, you probably won't enjoy this album either as it suffers from more or less the same flaws (just with subtle differences).