Review Summary: Full of energy and anthemic rock, Bring Me The Horizon's latest record accomplishes exactly what they wanted it to achieve, for better or worse.
It's always an interesting experience watching a band change and evolve, and seeing fans and critics alike praising or rejecting a new incarnation of what used to be. Whether it be new members joining an already established group, or a shared desire within the band to take on and adapt to new styles while leaving behind others that have become stale or have simply run their course, as always, it inevitably results in uproar.
The thing is, change is nothing new to Bring Me The Horizon.
They have long since shed the deathcore roots of old, and abandoned the Count Your Blessings
, Suicide Season
style in favor of a growing fondness for ambiance and climatic synthesizers backing metalcore aggression and mixed clean and scream vocals. Their career turning point 'There is a Hell...
and critically acclaimed Sempiternal
eventually established Bring Me The Horizon as a far more accessible rock group, with a larger fan base than ever before and bringing them to the biggest period of success in their career. Expectations ran high for what was going to come next, and boy did they deliver. Perhaps just not as everyone expected they would.
Seemingly invigorated by their latest successes, That's The Spirit
sees Bring Me The Horizon harness the raw, stadium rock anthem energy and mold it with the style of previous record Sempiternal
, while bringing in influences from other established modern rock acts. Particularly evident in this influence, are California rockers Linkin Park, songs such as 'Throne' dripping with Living Things
-esque driving synthesizers, compliments of keyboardist Jordan Fish, and a huge, thundering chorus to slam the track into your ear drums. Also to bear this resemblance is the slower, ballad track 'Follow You', which could have been simply scooped up out of Minutes To Midnight
, sprinkled with light natural guitar harmonics and featuring Oli Sykes deliver all clean vocals that shows off his progression as a singer nicely.
With this shiny, newer symphonic rock style throughout That's The Spirit
, Bring Me The Horizon's signature soaring metalcore style has simply become a more visceral, heavier incarnation of radio rock, with plenty of big, catchy chorus' driving the record forward in an assortment of mostly radio friendly material. The album isn't afraid to get aggressive, however; guitarist Lee Malia's crunchy, distortion riffage shines on songs such as 'Happy Song' and 'What You Need'. Paired with drummer Matt Nicholls, whose powering percussion roars past spectacularly on tracks 'True Friends' and 'Drown', the pair bring up the heavier side of things and the results are, for the most part, energizing and spectacular. As mentioned earlier, Oli Sykes vocal delivery yet again continues to impress and show improvement, seamlessly mixing clean vocals with the aggression of earlier days, and it is the blasting climaxes of 'Throne' or 'Avalanche' where he is completely in his element.
All things considered, That's The Spirit
appears on the outside a relatively solid album, and does maintain a consistent momentum throughout the record, peppered with the occasional softer track. It is only on particular songs, such as 'Blasphemy', where Bring Me The Horizon fully display just how comfortable in their own skin they have become. The track is full of echoing beats and shimmering guitar notes, Sykes harrowing vocals cut through the void and Malia suddenly delivers a short, clean guitar solo that shines with a classic rock vibe. It is unexpected, and it is exquisite.
Album closer 'Oh No' also comes with a flavor of surprise and experimentation, laying off the roaring stadium anthemic style of previous tracks, and featuring a softer sound more akin to light, art rock. As the gang vocals and delayed guitar notes come to a sudden halt, a saxophone solo gently flows by, in a moment of gorgeous somber calmness before the track kicks things off again.
It won't please everyone though, and this is to be expected. The blissful, immersive soundscapes of Sempiternal
have largely been cut down to make way for a more accessible record, and the lyrics range from fairly cheesy to certain grammar choices that are arguably questionable, the most obvious being "I wouldn't hold my breath if I was you." However, on an album full of radio rock-esque tracks, it was already incredibly evident from the album singles that a record full of meaningful, lyrical substance was something that was going to be taking a back seat here. Instead what Bring Me The Horizon are aiming for is simply an energy. A visceral, neatly packaged little box that would drive a hammering beat and a soaring chorus right into your ears. A record that makes your heart pound. It doesn't boast to be anything except exactly what it is, and this is most obviously seen in 'Happy Song'; it doesn't want you to think about it. It wants you to feel spirit.
So let's hear it.