Review Summary: Continual progression.
Bring Me the Horizon started out as a very different group from the one you hear today. Formed in 2004, they were a band that had a primarily deathcore sound; “Count Your Blessings” was a mediocre debut that really did nothing but rehash central tenets of the genre it was within. As time went on though, the band’s sound began to mature. “Suicide Season,” although nothing to write home about, saw the band exploring more versatility with their song writing. Needless to say, when 2010 came around many people were surprised by the band’s third album “There is a Hell…”; it was the first album where Bring Me the Horizon actually began to have a distinct sound. Now with “Sempiternal,” the band have carved out their own sound, and shown what they are truly capable of.
“Sempiternal” is a very electronic-influenced album. Although guitarist Lee Malia alluded to the fact that the album would have post-rock influences, electronic influences are really what abound on this album. This is all thanks to the band's new programmer/keyboardist Jordan Fish. Fish’s influence is evidenced throughout the entire album, from the impassioned opener “Can You Feel My Heart"” all the way through to the melancholy “Hospital of Souls.” His beautiful flourishes add a haunting ambiance to the album, showcased in tracks such as “Sleepwalking” and “Go to Hell, for Heaven’s Sake.” The album would not be the same without him.
This is not to undermine the rest of the instrumentation on the album. Malia definitely manages to keep the listener engaged; somber guitar parts throughout help to underline the general theme of the album, and well-phrased solos show that he definitely knows how to handle his instrument. “The House of Wolves” is a good example of this; while it hearkens back to Bring Me the Horizon’s older works it shows a lot of instrumental improvement. Bassist Matt Kean and drummer Matt Nicholls are both excellent as well; as the band’s sound has matured the band members have really been able to showcase their capabilities.
This leaves us with Oliver Sykes. Sykes has improved tremendously on this album, showing that he is capable of much more than previous works ever indicated. His singing on “Sempiternal” really highlights the emotional turmoil of the album; it evokes a deep feeling of sadness. Sykes’ lyricism has also markedly improved; it is interesting to see the lyrical transition from “There is a Hell…” to “Sempiternal.” While “There is a Hell...” seemed to hold religious undertones, “Sempiternal” is an anti-religious album; clear examples being “F*** your faith” from “Crooked Young” and “I’ll bow for your king when he shows himself” from “The House of Wolves.” These sentiments are littered throughout the album, providing for an interesting lyrical theme. The only lyrically and musically disappointing song on the album is “Anti-vist,” providing unrequited nostalgia for Bring Me the Horizon’s older works.
All in all, “Sempiternal” is an excellent album that really showcases what Bring Me the Horizon can do. The addition of programmer/keyboardist Jordan Fish really helped to bring the band’s sound together, as did continued maturation on the other band members’ parts. “Sempiternal” will help to remove negative connotations surrounding the band, while keeping old fans interested in the band’s impressive progression.