Review Summary: Sure, it’s fun for them that they can experiment with their sound. But I’ll be damned if it sounds good.
The by high school-girls proclaimed princes of Metalcores last effort, “Suicide Season”, was certainly not a masterpiece, but at least there was some sort of feeling to it. On this, their third album, you get the impression that the band is trying way too hard to progress and be innovative. So much actually that it just gets ridiculous.
Contrary to this last statement of trying too hard, the singer, clothing designer and every emo-girls wet dream Oli Sykes seems to have more or less stopped trying. The lyrics are (if possible) even worse than on “Suicide Season”, the structures and melodies are lame and average at best (seriously, sometimes it sounds like he’s ripping off kindergarten-songs) and you can still tell that he, after at least six year of actively screaming in a band, is using faulty techniques to muster his characteristic mid-pitch shouts and his on this album relatively rarely used dark low-pitch. On a side note, one would think that he, being the singer in one of the world’s trendiest bands, would try to learn how to sing actual notes.
What drags this album down though is the one thing it tries to excel at: its experimentation. The chugging guitars are still there, but more rarely and they sound more tired than ever. Instead, make room for inappropriate electronic elements and unmotivated orchestral parts. This could sound like a good idea on paper, but it just doesn’t work. None of the electro-bits fit the songs, but rather drags them down. The orchestral parts are somewhat better performed, but it still feels unfitting when accompanied with Oli Sykes monotonous and wrongly executed screams.
If I were to choose one single, simple thing to change for the positive throughout the album, it would definitely be to remove all of the distracting and annoying effects that are thrown in on random places, like the glitches and hacks in both music, singing and timing that you can find in almost every song. Worst of all is the opening song “Crucify Me”, when singer Lights
makes a guest-performance right before the middle of the song. I can only assume that the thought behind the effects (if there are any at all) is to alienate the listener by causing a feeling of discomfort. If performed correctly, this can be the best thing to do in this genre, but you don’t have to brutally violate an already eerie song-melody with effects. It would probably have worked better if Lights
could sing in the voice her mom and dad gave her.
Song-structure is something these Englishmen seems to have totally forgotten about. Did they really think that it was a good idea to just squeeze in as many emolectro-influences and breakdowns they could into approximately four and a half minutes? The songs length in particular makes one wonder, did they just up and decide that all songs must be over four minutes long? Had they removed parts of certain songs and shortened them a minute or two they could have been somewhat good, but instead they go all in on forcing as much as possible into each song. This is something that can be amazing if you are still able to (to some degree) control it, like genius [L]Between The Buried And Me[L] or heavily under-appreciated [L]War From A Harlots Mouth[L], but Bring Me The Horizon doesn’t manage to accomplish this.
Speaking of different kinds of structure, it feels necessary to mention the track listing. The standard order of a Metalcore-album is that you start with some shorter, faster songs to end with a longer, more epic song, for example Parkway Drive
’s “Horizons” or As I Lay Dying
’s “An Ocean Between Us”. Bring Me The Horizon also followed this pattern on “Suicide Season”, which is probably the reason why they this time around open with the longest song “Crucify Me” which clocks in on around six minutes and twenty seconds, to later finish the album with the intense song “The Fox And The Wolf” which stands a mere 1:43 long. I can see the reasoning behind twisting a cliché, but it falls flat to finish with a song like that when the rest of the album tries to be grand and epic. On top of that it feels kind of immature, in lack of a better word, to think in such literal ways that you have to totally flip a concept around just to be different.
Not everything is completely worthless though. “Alligator Blood” is a heavy and pretty good song that makes me think a little of BMTH’s far superior buddies Architects
. It too would have been slightly better if it had been cut to circa three minutes. Instrumental “Memorial” is a solid atmospheric song that makes me think of a digitalized Godspeed You! Black Emperor
, but not nearly as good or multifaceted as the Canadian post-rockers. Every now and then you find a riff that reminds you of other (read: better) bands, but in the end this only makes you wish that you were listing to those bands instead.
To finish things of I’d like to say that this could be the worst album-title I’ve ever seen or heard.
+ “Alligator Blood” and “Memorial”.
+ I guess it’s good to see that they’re at least trying to progress musically, even though they don’t succeed.
–Oli Sykes. A change of singer would probably be to the bands advantage from a musical point of view. Though their sales would plummet from fourteen year old girls boycotting the band, so that won’t happen.
– Uninspired arrangements, especially when it comes to guitars.
–Bad songs that tries to be epic and catchy, but fail miserably. “Anthem”, “***” and “Home Sweet Hole” (though I’ll admit that I like the title of the last mentioned) are really freaking terrible.