Review Summary: Don't say you love me, fala amo
Bring Me the Horizon and stylistic shifts have been almost synonymous for the majority of their career. No two albums sound the same, serving as both a testament to how much attention they give to making their music varied as well as a reality that could lead to their undoing in the eyes of their fanbase. Simply put, 2006’s Count Your Blessings
was standard, if a bit sloppy, deathcore; 2008’s Suicide Season
was even sloppier, but it marked the beginning of their transition to more accessible styles of music, with tracks like “The Sadness Will Never End” and the title track leading into their future changes in style, most notably that of There Is a Hell
and their opus, Sempiternal.
As a follow-up to 2015’s That’s the Spirit
, an album which ended up launching the band into mainstream popularity beyond the metalcore circle, Amo
sees Bring Me the Horizon experimenting more with poppy, electronic moments as well as sections that overtake the majority of its predecessor in terms of their sheer heaviness.
Allow me to make one thing clear; nothing on here quite reaches the heights of There Is a Hell
. However, there’s plenty to work with on its own merits. Their attention to stylistic variation this go around was first realized on the four pre-release singles. “Mantra” seemingly picks up where That’s the Spirit
left off, as it relies on a driving riff that wouldn’t feel too out of place on something along the lines of “Happy Song” while also showing the listener the next step in Bring Me the Horizon’s stylistic evolution with its electronic bridge. “Wonderful Life”, a song which was initially slated for the next Limp Bizkit album, bears a striking resemblance to Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls On Parade” with its main riff while containing Oli Sykes’ signature lyrical quirks. On the other side of the aisle resides “Medicine” and “Mother Tongue”, where we see the band eschewing the driving hard rock of the previous two singles in favor of an alt-pop sound along the lines of early Maroon 5 or Twenty One Pilots. Your mileage will vary here, but as far as I’m concerned, both are fairly catchy pop tracks, if not a tad bit disposable after repeated listens.
It’s been said many times over the months leading up to the release that this would be far more varied and experimental than the largely safe-playing alt-metal That’s the Spirit
, and for the most part, that’s the truth. Opener “I Apologise If You Feel Something” and “Nihilist Blues” take heavy influence from the EDM scene, the former being used as a build-up to “Mantra” and the latter feeling like an equal collaboration between the band and featured artist Grimes, as it moves away from the sound of its preceding track. While there are some heavier moments sprinkled all across the album, such as the ending in “Heavy Metal” and some parts of "Sugar Honey Ice & Tea” and “Why You Gotta Kick Me When I’m Down?”, they are few and far between, as a majority of Amo
is influenced by rave and EDM, as well as Top 40 pop on the likes of “in the dark” and “mother tongue”. Closer “I Don’t Know What to Say” is described as a sort of “orchestra meets metal” piece, and I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description, debatable definitions of what “metal” means in this context aside.
Of course, this is
a concept album, so I’d be doing you a disservice to not go into detail about the lyrical content on Amo
. “I Apologise If You Feel Something” makes this clear right away, telling the listener to remember that the whirlwind of emotions the record is built upon are personal in nature. Love is a constant theme, but there’s a level of spite that can’t be ignored. Numbers like “In the Dark”, “Ouch”, and “Medicine” all serve as successors to “Follow You” from 2015’s That’s the Spirit
, with “Ouch” in particular directly referencing its lyrics. Lead single “Mantra” plays into the album’s theme with a heavy dose of sarcasm as well as obscured comparisons between love and a cult. Following in the footsteps of “Mantra” in terms of their sarcastic undertones are “Wonderful Life” and “Sugar Honey Ice & Tea”; the former of which sees Sykes with a gloomy outlook on life yet acting as if he enjoys the mundane parts of everydayness. The likes of “Why You Gotta Kick Me When I’m Down?” and “Heavy Metal” address the inevitable backlash that will come from this album, and closer “I Don’t Know What to Say” is an apt tribute to a friend of Sykes who had passed as a result of his cancer.
For an album to pool from as many stylistic influences as Amo
has and not completely fail at capturing each one is an impressive feat. While there are some misfires as expected, such as that of the cheesy love ballad that is “Mother Tongue”, Bring Me the Horizon has succeeded once again at bending their style in multiple different directions at once. It’s not the most accessible Bring Me album, even for newer fans that got on board around That’s the Spirit
era, as many tracks end up sounding rather strange and unconventional compared to the album that comes before it. Oli Sykes’ quirky lyricism on tracks like “Wonderful Life” is especially noteworthy when you keep in mind that they were written in a stream of consciousness. Most of all, this album is a turning point for the band; since they’re not content with sticking with one style forever, they’ve decided to use the platform they’ve amassed to do, well, whatever the fuck they want with their music. For that alone, Amo
is a success.