Review Summary: Pray for plagues, indeed.
Nowadays they’re one of the most exciting bands on the British metal scene, fusing crushing metalcore heaviness with slashing melodies and washes of electronic ambience. They’ve convinced swathes of haters to reverse their opinions, and tore several festivals new orifices with their vicious live performances. But things haven’t always been that way for Bring Me the Horizon. Cast yourself back in time to 2006 and they are a very different band.
A rather bad one, in fact.
Unlike their later, more experimental affairs, Count Your Blessings can be placed firmly into the box labelled “Deathcore 101”. The ingredients for almost every song are identical- downtuned, serrated guitar riffs, hell-for-leather rhythms, banshee screaming and the occasional drunk-football-fan gang vocal. And, of course, the essential component to every mediocre deathcore album, breakdowns. Not quite enough of them to reach Parkway Drive levels of tedium, but a lot of them nonetheless. Once you’ve heard one song, you’ve pretty much heard them all, and while there is the occasional curveball (more on that later), this is an album that could best be described as “consistent”.
Album opener (and fan favourite) “Pray for Plagues” kicks off with a disjointed cavalcade of guitars and drums, before infamous vocalist Oli Sykes plunges into the fray with a disturbingly high-pitched scream that, to quote allMusic, sounds “less like the Cookie Monster than one of those silly voiced creatures in the cantina in the original Star Wars movie”. It’s actually a reasonably strong opener once it gets going, and the breakdown is definitely the best to be found on the album. But then the awfully monikered “Tell Slater Not to Wash His Dick” follows, and so begins the monumental tedium that is “Count Your Blessings”.
There is so little originality and eclecticism present here that, before long, every track muddles together into one breakdown-filled pile of sludge. The fact that this mere 40 minute album is a chore to get through just shows how dull and monotonous it is. Tracks like “I Used to Make Out with Medusa” and “Off the Heezay” would be approaching listenability, if they just chopped two minutes off each one. For some bands, it’s fine for every song to sound the same, because it’s a good sound. With a sound as awful as the turgid deathcore mess that Horizon play with here, repeating the same tricks relentlessly over and over is far less endearing.
Oli’s vocals, greatly improved on later releases, are frankly awful on this album. While his gutturals are generally well implemented, the high-pitched scream he employs frequently across the album’s 10 tracks is grating to the point of cheesiness. The awful production values don’t help matters either, the lack of bass across the album’s entirety robbing it of the bowel-shaking heaviness that makes deathcore interesting, and without that, “Count Your Blessings” sounds not only monotonous, but also strangely muted.
It says a lot about the terrible general songwriting quality of the album that the best track is a two minute, instrumental acoustic interlude. The one significant use of dynamics present on this tedious collection, “15 Fathoms, Counting” is a wonderful moment of relief from the sledgehammer assault of the rest of the album. Blending shimmering acoustic melodies with a gorgeous background synths and minimalistic percussion, it’s remarkably beautiful, and is (quite ludicrously) the album’s musical highlight. You even wish it would go on for longer, so as to avoid the tedium of more Bring Me the Br00tality.
“Count Your Blessings”, then. A naive, underwhelming starting point for a band that would go on to make much better music. That even the band themselves have pretty much disowned this album should tell you just how far removed it is from the rest of their output in terms of quality. While breakdown fanboys, deathcore elitists and hormonal scene girls will find refuge here, we with more discerning musical tastes should look elsewhere.