Review Summary: "Give me a reason to start again"... No thank you, Sempiternal, it is fine, you have been played, now you can take your rightful place in the bargain basket.
This is a very strange world we live in, to say the least. This is a world where people go round bombing Boston, a world where people shoot up schools, a world where the goddamn Dark Knight Rises premiere gets shot up by some asshole looking for a bit of attention. It is also a world where an album by a band named Bring Me The Horizon gets a whole lot of praise and mass attention purely because it is a slight step up from the releases that preceded it despite the fact the riffing is as bland as it gets, the vocals are honestly cringe-worthy and the songs structures would be predictable by a two year old with mental disabilities. This album was Sempiternal and was released in 2013 to huge amounts of praise from the mainstream metal community who claimed that it had more than lived up to the band's promises that their new "post-rock influenced album" would be their strongest yet. Hmmph.
From the beginning of the album it should be clear that this album is not half as good as it is hyped up to be and is yet another let down. Can You Feel My Heart is arguably the second worst Bring Me The Horizon opener to date, containing a lot of electronic noises. This is a song that does not well represent the rest of the album nor set the tone for it as an opener really should, and its only saving grace is actually the vocal performance which really is a first for Bring Me The Horizon. For once, Oliver Sykes actually attempts to clean sing and it is not as atrocious as one would expect from hearing his demon toddler screaming on their past two albums. The lyrical content is also somewhat of a step up from their past albums but only by a little, with lines such as "I can't drown my demons, they know how to swim" showing off a cheesy side of the band. For the most part this song is not really awful as such but really doesn't fit the mood of this release nor does it fit together very well, with the electronic sections leading into the "Post-rock sections" (trust me, this is about as post-rock as this album is going to get) but it does not flow smoothly.
The guitar work on Sempiternal is one of its many failings, with the hardcore punk-inspired riffing of There Is A Hell making a return in place of the semi-creative riffs found at certain points of their debut. The House Of Wolves has a rather decent riff to kick it off but does not really have enough substance to it to maintain itself and Anti-Vist blows its potential with the atrocious lyrical content and abyssmal vocals from Oli. For the most part, however, the riffs on here sound the same throughout, as Empire shows off rather well with its bland and unmemorable nature. It is clear that the band strived to create an atmosphere that could be labelled "dark" but they really botched that up. A couple of the songs have a bleak mood to them but for the most part the only bleak mood that is created is actually from the listener when they realize they have another load of songs to sit through of the same riff over and over again. That is the one thing that their debut did a lot better than Sempiternal in the sense that on that release every riff did not sound the exact same as the last fifty. The rest of the instrumental performance here is not particularly strong either, with the drums being a highlight on tracks like Shadow Moses and The House Of Wolves and at least giving it something that resembles a little creativity but for the most part even they remain pedestrian.
The song structures here are probably the worst the band has ever utilized. There Is A Hell, whilst flawed, at least brought some interesting ideas to the table with tracks such as Crucify Me and F*ck showing the band to have the ability to write a lot of contrasting sections within the same song. Here, there are only two types of song and each of those is as predictable as it gets. The first category is the straighforward metalcore sections, with a lot of screaming in the verses, the occasional sung chorus and the rather annoying reliance on breakdowns on tracks like Empire. The choruses can be quite fun, as Shadow Moses shows, the verses are usually quite fast paced but without a lot to them, and the breakdowns usually aim to give the songs something catchy and a new dynamic to play with. The other category of songs are the ones that could only be described as "Linkin Park homages". This is not the early 2000s anymore, Bring Me The Horizon, Linkin Park aren't exactly the most relevant nor memorable of bands anymore. As such, tracks like Sleepwalking and Go To Hell For Heavens Sake really do suffer. These two tracks in particularly play around with electronic effects and have the ridiculous sung verses with screamed breakdowns in a Linkin Park manner, but they feel just too robotic and processed. There is absolutely nothing inventive nor properly enjoyable about this album whatsoever. A couple of the songs have some enjoyable sections (the breakdown to Empire, the verse to Shadow Moses) but most of the tracks here are dull.
Sempiternal is an album that got hyped up far too much by too many people and falls massively short of the mark. This is not a "post-rock influenced" masterpiece as the band promised it would be but is in fact a scarcely-listenable atrocity with some really bland songs that are as snooze-inducing as it gets. I would recommend that you stay away from Sempiternal if you wish to stay awake for the foreseeable future.