Review Summary: At least you tried.1 of 8 thought this review was well written
Well, Bring Me The Horizon, you've done it again. This year, I've been hit in the face with another chapter of your extended exploration into the metalcore genre that began back in 2008 with Suicide Season, and you still haven't found what you're looking for. To be honest, Sempiternal only makes me think that they've actually just forgotten why they started it to begin with. Don't get me wrong, I liked Suicide Season and to an extent enjoyed parts of There Is A Hell...But I can't help but feel that the musical approach taken by BMTH in this album has just resulted in them backing into the corner of the one genre they're comfortable with. To those not familiar with other bands in the metalcore genre, this may appear an exciting venture with the integration of synth and melodic vocals in BMTH's music. However, for those aware of other bands; this isn't anything particularly new or unique. It doesn't add any sense of freshness to Sempiternal as an album. At its base, it's really just BMTH just doing the same old thing that they've been repeating since the success of Suicide Season - with added features to widen their appeal to more fans. And it's getting old real fast.
As I managed to get a download of this from the horrendous leak disaster that occurred a month prior to the album's release date, I was able to get stuck straight into their new offering. And I've got to admit, the album starts well. 'Can You Feel My Heart' openly grabs attention with some really nice atmospheric, overwhelming synth before you get to hear Oli Sykes' first true attempt at melodic vocals with his typical emotional lyrics that can be found on pretty much every song on There Is A Hell... For example: 'I'm at the edge of the world, where do I go from here? Do I disappear?' these contrasting later on with the somewhat childishly offensive lyrics of Anti-Vist: 'Middle fingers up, if you don't give a ***!'. Whilst the latter is really just a patronising attempt at signifying anger, the majority of lyrics fit the melodic approach; but aren't particularly engaging. It's all well and good that he's singing about being on the edge of the world and his empire falling down; but it's hard to relate to or feel anything beyond a horrifically bad sense of melodrama that may have been genuine emotion back in Suicide Season and There Is A Hell... - but here is just being put on top as something for all the kids to enjoy. His vocal style isn't exactly bad on this album, but he doesn't extend it any further than the mid-high harsh screams for verses and breakdowns and the melodic vocals for the choruses. And this formula is repeated on practically every single song on Sempiternal.
Aside from the prominent vocal issue with this album, I have to unfortunately comment on the guitarwork. Put simply, there's more chugging to be found on this album than an Amish dairy. Songs like 'Empire (Let Them Sing)', 'Sleepwalking' & 'Shadow Moses' make this outstandingly obvious. Whilst songs like 'Anti-Vist' & 'Crooked Young' ALSO include chugging sections, because BMTH love them so damn much! On a serious note, despite this dreary and painfully repetitive base for most songs - there are some decent attempts at incorporating post-rock elements into the songs. My only gripe with this is that it's fine if you use this nice feature for specific moments for effect; but when every song features the main riff being played at a slower tempo than it is regularly at and sounding like it's in the middle of the Antarctic - it gets so very, very uninspired. It's a plus that they included this idea, but for the most part the songs are simply songs we've heard before slammed with the synth influences. Occasionally this is broken apart with relatively unique songs like 'And The Snakes Start To Sing' that create a nice atmosphere, 'Seen It All Before' & 'Hospital Of Souls' - albeit these are largely just showing off (and are dependant upon) the new features that BMTH have introduced with Sempiternal: synth and melodic vocals. The drumming is pretty much the same as it's always been in BMTH's music; if you cut out the more interesting d-beat and frantic speed inspired sections in their previous two albums. Unfortunately nailed down to the mid-tempo nature of the songs as a whole. It's nothing special, really.
When I listen to Sempiternal, I feel like I'm a parent telling Bring Me The Horizon that I'm not angry at them; I'm just disappointed. I really am. I expected better, but it appears as though they've merely hit the default button in order to appeal to the teenage kids who make up the majority of their fan base. No real expansion, even if BMTH think they have - it'll earn them more places at festivals but little respect from a more adult fan base.